London jobs to go as Swiss Re axes 2,000

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The Independent Online

The world's largest reinsurer, Swiss Re, unveiled plans to axe 2,000 jobs yesterday, hundreds of which are set to be lost from its iconic London offices in Norman Foster's Gherkin.

The latest round of cuts, which will be made over the next four months, comes only weeks after the company axed 250 of its senior managers. An announcement from the group yesterday gave no explanation for the cuts, other than claiming that they would "capture ... efficiency gains" and secure the company's competitiveness.

But a spokesman later added: "This move is part of the integration of GE Insurance Solutions into the Swiss Re group. Beyond that, we have not announced any additional restructuring measures." Swiss Re bought GE's insurance operations for $6.8bn (£3.7bn) towards the end of last year. The group saidmost of the cuts outside London would be at offices in Zurich, Kansas City, Armonk near New York and Munich.

It added that the jobs would be cut via a combination of compulsory redundancies and natural attrition. "Swiss Re is committed to providing all employees affected with appropriate separation packages including professional career support," it said.

Swiss Re employs more than 11,500 staff worldwide, of whom2,500 were acquired through the GE deal. The company says the lay-offs are part of its strategy to achieve cost-savings of at least $300m a year by the end of 2007.

The cuts are the latest in a swath of job losses announced in recent weeks among a handful of the world's largest financial institutions, including Allianz (7,500 jobs) and Zurich Financial (1,000 jobs).

Shares in Swiss Re on the Zurich stock exchange fell 0.6 per cent on yesterday's news.