Former Zurich Insurance boss commits suicide

By Ben Martin

This is the second time the Swiss business has been shaken by suicide in less than three years. Photo / Bloomberg
This is the second time the Swiss business has been shaken by suicide in less than three years. Photo / Bloomberg

The former chief executive of Zurich Insurance has taken his own life; the second time the Swiss business has been shaken by suicide in less than three years.

Martin Senn, a Swiss national who stepped down as Zurich's boss six months ago following the company's failed bid for British insurer RSA, died last week in Klosters, Switzerland, at the age of 59. It follows the suicide of Pierre Wauthier, who had been Zurich's chief financial officer, in August 2013.

"It is with great shock and sadness that we must inform you of the sudden death of Martin Senn," Zurich said. "His family informed us that Martin took his life last Friday.

"With the passing of Martin, we lose not only a highly valued former CEO and colleague but also a close friend. Our thoughts are with his bereaved family and friends, to whom we extend our deepest sympathies."

Mr Senn, who had led Zurich for six years and had worked alongside Mr Wauthier, resigned at the start of December after 2015 proved to be a tough year for the insurer.

It was forced to abandon a £5.6 billion (NZ$12.2 billion) takeover bid for RSA in September after the Swiss firm's finances were knocked by the disaster at the Chinese port of Tianjin, which earlier that year was hit by an industrial accident. At the time of his resignation, Mr Senn said that RSA, which had issued a number of profit warnings, had encountered "some setbacks in recent months".

In 2013, Josef Ackermann resigned as Zurich's chairman three days after the suicide of Mr Wauthier. Mr Wauthier had expressed unhappiness with the working environment under Mr Ackermann in a suicide note he left.

An investigation carried out by Zurich and overseen by Switzerland's regulator, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, later concluded that there was "no indication that Pierre Wauthier was subjected to any undue or inappropriate pressure".

Mr Senn, who was succeeded by the former boss of Italian insurer Generali, Mario Greco, spent his career in finance and insurance. He joined Zurich a decade ago as its chief investment officer before becoming its chief executive four years later.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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