May 16, 2018 / 6:29 AM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-PZU Q1 net profit down 32 pct but tops forecasts

(Adds CEO quote and background)

WARSAW, May 16 (Reuters) - Top Polish insurer PZU SA on Wednesday reported a 640 million zloty ($176.19 million) first-quarter net profit, down 32 percent, as weak performance by the Warsaw bourse dented its investments.

However, that was 4 percent higher than the 613 million zloty profit forecast by analysts.

Gross written premiums reached 5.83 billion zloty, just below analysts’ expectations.

“Such good results give us a base to share them with shareholders. ... We also remember our long-term strategic commitment that the dividend per share is to rise year on year in the long term,” PZU CEO Pawel Surowka said in a statement.

On Tuesday PZU said it plans to earmark 2.16 billion zloty for its 2017 dividend, or 2.5 zloty per share.

Analysts will look to a PZU news conference scheduled for 1000 local time (0800 GMT) for more on PZU’s stance regarding the merger of its two banks - Bank Pekao SA and Alior Bank, an idea promoted by Pekao.

Pekao has delayed until this quarter the release of its assessment of whether a merger would be beneficial. Many analysts expect it to back the idea.

State-run PZU’s shares are down almost seven percent this year, broadly in line with the Warsaw bourse’s main index , which has lost 7.5 percent.

$1 = 3.6325 zlotys Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Jason Neely

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