Former Zurich Insurance CEO killed himself, says company

Carnation

The former chief executive of Zurich Insurance has killed himself, the company said, less than three years after its chief financial officer killed himself.

The death of Martin Senn, who was born in 1957, takes the number of suicides by executives at Switzerland’s biggest companies to five in just eight years.

Zurich, Switzerland’s biggest insurer, said: “Martin Senn’s family has informed us that Martin committed suicide last Friday.

In a statement it added that it was “stunned and deeply shaken” by his sudden death. “With Martin, we lose not only a commendable former CEO and valued former colleague, but also a good-hearted friend. Our thoughts are with his family, to whom we express our deepest condolences,” the statement said.

“Out of respect for Martin and out of consideration for the family, we will not make any further comment.”

Police in the canton of Grisons confirmed they had responded to a case but gave no further details.

Senn resigned from the company on 1 December last year after a failed takeover bid for the British insurer RSA. His death comes less than three years after former colleague Pierre Wauthier, the insurer’s chief financial officer, also killed himself.

At the firm’s annual meeting in 2014, Senn said: “The grief and shock we experienced at the suicide of our colleague Pierre Wauthier was enormous.”

The suicide prompted a company-wide inquiry into workplace pressure, with Zurich’s then chairman, Josef Ackermann, resigning after he was named in Wauthier’s suicide note.

The note, addressed “to whom it may concern” described how Wauthier had become demoralised by what he called a new, more aggressive tone at Zurich Insurance.

Two independent investigations directed by Swiss regulators found no indication he had been subject to undue pressure by decision-makers at the company.

Switzerland’s business community has been rocked by a series of suicides since Alex Widmer, the chief executive of private bank Julius Baer, killed himself in 2008 as the financial crash loomed.

Swisscom boss Carsten Schloter killed himself in 2013, while Adrian Kohler, boss of herbal sweets firm Ricola, killed himself in 2011.

• In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rob Davies, for theguardian.com on Monday 30th May 2016 13.57 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

 

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