CNBC Interview with Zurich Insurance CEO, Mario Greco, from the World Economic Forum 2018

Following are excerpts from a CNBC interview with Mario Greco, Zurich Insurance CEO and CNBC's Geoff Cutmore and Steve Sedgwick from the World Economic Forum 2018.

GC: So, let's-, let's spend a little bit more time on this, if we can. Mario Greco has joined us, the CEO of Zurich Insurance, and, just for a moment, shareholders sit tight, we'll get on to the insurance business in just a moment, but, while I have you here, Mario, and thanks very much for joining us-,

MG: Thank you.

GC: Would-, would a hung parliament in the Italian elections be a disaster for making real progress in Italy, on debt reduction and other important social issues?

MG: Italy has made lots of progress, and the improvement of the economy is visible, is real, and will last. Of course, the elections are an important step now, you know, but people have to vote, that's a good sign of democracy, and we will see what they-, what they will vote for, but I'm very confident that the path of the Italian economy in to recovery, in to development, will continue.

GC: Mr. Gentiloni is not even on the ballot, but everybody I talk to, you said it, off air, Carlo Messina has made it pretty clear to me, would like to see Mr. Gentiloni carry on being Prime Minister. But-, but he doesn't seem to have staked his claim on the job yet. If there were a coalition, involving the Democrats, do you think he should remain as Prime Minister?

MG: His government has been very effective, and I think it has been appreciated by the markets, it's been appreciated by investors, and it's been appreciated outside of Italy. Italy has to continue. Italy has been improving, it's been recovering, it is clearly one of the troubled issues of the European economy, still, today, but it is getting much better, and it's heading in a very right direction, and so that has to continue.

SS: I think we're going to spend a lot more time on Italy, obviously with your Gentiloni interview, so, if we maybe move back to insurance, if we can, as well. An incredibly tragic period, for natural disasters, and huge weather events, over the last year or so, and we're still exhibiting it with, you know, extraordinary storms in the United States, and elsewhere, as well. In my cynicism, though, Mario, I see that laying the foundations for a better pricing environment in the future-,

MG: [Laughter].

SS: Most people in the insurance industry do tell me that, yes, you have short-term hit, but long-term gain. Ever since Hurricane Andrew taught me that lesson-, I understand that's the case for you, isn't it?

MG: Look. First of all, I think in the storms, what we did, as probably others did, but I'd like to talk about ourselves. In two days, we fully assessed the impact of the storms. We used drones, we used helicopters, we used technology from air, which was totally new. I mean, storms, like floods, they're very, very difficult. It usually took months to assess them. In this case, in Florida, in Texas, in Puerto Rico, we came in, in a couple of days, we knew exactly where the damages went. We organized rescues, we organized help. So, I think we gave an excellent service. This is why we are there, and we proved that we were useful. The insurance market has suffered, in '17, badly, so, I think some price movements should be expected, especially for the lines, for the geographies which have been hit. We are pleased with our performance in '17, we're going to report in ten days, but we're pleased with what we've been doing in '17, and we look forward to a better '18, to a balanced year in '18, and to some growth.

GC: Can I ask you, given half your business is in the US, what difference is Donald Trump's tax program going to make for what you have to pay, and what'll be left in the pot for the business?

MG: Yeah. The US economy is very strong. That-, that is an excellent sign, its' an excellent sign for companies like ourselves, doing business in the US, but also for the rest of the world. The US will continue, it's very resilient, this growth, and the tax reform, which has been long awaited, has been a further positive impact on the economy. It's a significant impact, it will allow, you know, companies to distribute even more money to their employees, following the tax reform, and it will allow the companies to invest more. So, the US will be even stronger because of that.

SS: We've got to leave it there. Mario, very nice to see you, thank you very much indeed-,

MG: Thank you.

SS: And thanks very much indeed for giving him a couple of questions off camera-,

GC: Absolutely. Terrific.

SS: For Mr. Gentiloni, as well-,
[Laughter].

SS: Let's be honest about it, we've been asking-, well, I mean, we've had some great questions given to us-,

GC: Yes.

SS: By Italian CEOs-,

GC: Yes.

SS: For your Gentiloni interview.

GC: Yes, no, and it's-,

SS: And that's the way to do it, isn't it?

ENDS