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Insurer CNP stays upbeat despite Q3 sales fall

French insurer CNP reported a 16.5% fall in third-quarter sales on Friday but remained confident of posting higher underlying profit despite the global financial crisis.

Sales fell to €6.008 billion ($7.74 billion), with revenue at CNP's overseas businesses falling 38% while turnover at its core French business dropped 12.6%.

CNP said it was confident of reporting a 10% increase in recurring profit before fair value adjustments to financial assets.

“Sales of pension and personal risk contracts showed satisfactory growth, net new money was strongly positive and insurance and financial liabilities - our main growth driver - continued to increase significantly,” CNP Chief Executive Gilles Benoist said in a statement.

Insurers around the globe have been hit by the crisis. Since many of them hold their assets in equities, they have been exposed to a recent slump in world stock markets that has led to a likely recession.

AXA, Europe's biggest insurer by market capitalization, reported lower sales figures this week while Dutch insurer Aegon posted a third-quarter loss.

CNP shares closed down 1.7% at €58 on Thursday, giving CNP a market capitalization of around €8.6 billion. The stock has fallen around 35% since the start of the year, compared with a 47% fall in the DJ Stoxx European insurance sector. (Reuters)