The Swiss company said late on Tuesday that Mr Greco will start in the role on May 1, replacing Tom de Swaan, who has held the position on an interim basis since last month.

Mr de Swann, who also chairs Zurich, said that “Mario offers the rare combination of entrepreneurial spirit, deep industry knowledge and proven CEO experience that anchored our search for Zurich’s next leader.”

Zurich Insurance has poached Generali chief executive Mario Greco in a move the Swiss insurer hopes will revive its fortunes and which leaves its Italian rival searching for a worthy successor.

Underscoring the challenges awaiting Greco after he engineered a rapid turnaround at Generali, Zurich issued a profit warning last week for its general insurance business, its second in four months.

“Like many global players, the company has faced market challenges in recent times but I know that Zurich’s strong global franchise, the breadth of talent and the powerful brand provide all of the ingredients for our future success,” Greco said in a statement announcing his appointment as CEO at Zurich.

A source had said Greco’s decision to leave Generali was due to personal reasons and not to differences with shareholders of the Italian insurer. Regardless, Bernstein analyst Thomas Seidl said his departure was bad news for Generali.

“The market liked Greco and that helped mitigate the downside for the shares. Now there’s room for the stock to fall closer to its 13 euro ($14) fair value,” Seidl said.

Generali shares closed down 3.15 percent at 14.15 euros on Tuesday, while Zurich shares rose 0.6 percent.

Speculation Greco might move to Zurich has been bubbling since mid-December. He ran the Swiss company’s main general insurance business before joining Generali in August 2012 and will return as chief executive on May 1.

Greco’s return to Zurich had been reported earlier by Reuters.

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