Zurich Financial Services (ZFS) has been granted a business license to establish a general insurance branch in Beijing by the Chinese State Administration for Industry and Commerce. Zurich is the first foreign insurer to have been granted such a license.

The new unit, Zurich Insurance Company Beijing Branch, will focus on serving corporate customers, including foreign customers with activities in China and large and medium sized enterprises from China, particularly those with business overseas.

According to ZFS, Beijing is one of the fastest growing cities in China, with a gross domestic product growth rate of 11.1% in 2005. It is home to many leading private companies and to most of the large state-owned enterprises, as well as to many local and foreign multinational companies.

By the end of 2004, 185 of the Global Fortune 500 companies had invested in the city. This creates a growing demand for general insurance, with customers looking for sophisticated insurance services, ZFS believes.

James Schiro, Zurich’s CEO, said: We are excited about the opening of our Beijing Branch, as it is in step with our strategy to grow profitably.