ITALY – The Generali Group plans to develop its asset management business despite reporting first time losses for 2002 and plans to cut 2,800 jobs over the next three years.

The Italian-based insurance and financial industry group is the largest insurance provider in Europe, and yesterday announced a strategic plan for 2003-2005 – the first time a plan has been announced in the group’s 171-year history.

Generali is reported to have suffered a net loss in 2002, but refused to disclose the size of any losses, or details about which sectors of the business may have been affected. Over the next three years a cost-cutting and cost-controlling strategy will be implemented, which will see a headcount reduction of 2,200 abroad and 600 in Italy. A spokeswoman said that details about where the job cuts would take place were unavailable.

Despite the announcement of losses and redundancies, Generali said that the asset management business was regarded as “a key component”, and that the group intended to address the development of the global asset management business, run out of Italy, Germany and France.

Generali also commented that although third party asset management was not considered a core activity, it could represent a niche opportunity in the context of overall investment optimisation.

Generali Asset Management manages around 63 billion euros in assets, having recently incorporated PrimeGest SGR and Prime Funds SGR.