Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Insurer Direct Line to cut about 2000 jobs

(Reuters) - Britain's Direct Line Insurance Group Plc , the motor insurer spun out of Royal Bank of Scotland , said it plans to cut about 2,000 positions as it looks to trim costs and boost profit.

European motor insurers have been faced with sluggish price growth because of intense competition, exacerbated in the past decade by the rise of price-comparison websites.

"This is another step in the ongoing transformation of Direct Line Group and an important part of our aim to regain competitive edge," Chief Executive Paul Geddes said.

Britain's biggest car insurer, which employs about 15,000 people, has since 2010 been cutting costs and avoiding high-risk drivers to protect itself from stiff competition and new regulation in the British motor insurance market.

Last year, Direct Line said it was seeking to save 100 million pounds a year by the end of 2014 and said it planned to cut nearly 900 jobs as part of a plan to make it more profitable ahead of a stock market listing.

Direct Line, which also offers home, travel and pet insurance, said it expected to record 150 million pounds of its 180 million pound restructuring costs in 2013 or 2014.

The company said these most recent cutbacks would allow it to save a further 130 million pounds annually by 2014, bringing its expected cost-base for 2014 to about 1 billion pounds.

Since its October 2012 float, Direct Line's shares have gained 17 percent, giving it a market value of about 3.29 billion pounds. Direct Line's shares closed at 219.1 pence on Tuesday on the London Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Richa Naidu in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane)