Posted on Nov 18, 2010 by Sergio Ulloa
Europe's fourth largest insurer - the Zurich Financial Services Group - has announced that it has entered into an agreement with its Spanish partners Unnim to sell them its 50 percent stake in their Spanish joint venture life and general insurance operation.
Zurich's decision to sell its equal stake in the Spanish insurance venture follows the merger between Caixa Sabadell, Caixa Terrassa and Caixa Manlieu in July 2010 to form Caixa d'Estalvis Unió de Caixes de Manlleu, Sabadell i Terrassa - also known as Unnim.
The merger has lead Zurich, and the newly formed Unnim, to enter into a definitive agreement for the Spain-based Unnim to buy-out Zurich's 50 percent share in the joint venture.
The Spanish savings bank Unnim has agreed to pay a cash consideration of €285 million (US$ 388 million) to Zurich in the deal, which will see Unnim become a wholly owned Spanish Insurance Provider. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval, but is expected to be completed in the early part of 2011.
Zurich and Spain based Caixa Sabadell originally entered into a 50-50 partnership in 2008, in a deal which cost Zurich €264 million (US$ 360 million), plus an extra €110 million (US$ 150 million) if agreed performance targets were met.
In recent months Zurich has been positioning its operational focus on emerging markets in the Gulf and Asian regions, highlighting the fact that these nascent insurance markets are evolving in the wake of the global financial crisis. The flourishing Indonesian insurance industry has lead the Swiss insurer to acquire an 80 percent stake in PT Mayapada Life
enabling it to gain access to one the fastest growing Asian life markets. Also, Zurich recently invested a further €308 million (USS $420 million) in shares in current Chinese partners New China Life Insurance (NCI)
in order to maintain its 20 percent stake in the China-based insurer, enabling Zurich to maintain a strong foothold in the world's second largest economy.
In October 2010, Zurich also said that it will look for opportunities to expand in the Middle East and Gulf regions, with the international insurers recently acquiring Lebanon based Compagnie Libanaise D'Assurances
. This enabled expansion of its operations in the region gaining access to markets in Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman; Zurich has recognized the income potential from premiums in the Islamic insurance sector as demand for takaful products increase in the emerging Islamic markets.
Zurich has stated that it will continue to look for bolt-on acquisitions within emerging markets to ensure it remains competitive in these evolving insurance markets.
In 2009, total premiums in the Spanish insurance industry reached €60.4 billion (US$ 81.5 billion). Although there are still significant returns for insurers operating in the established European markets, higher returns from new written premiums in the developing markets in Asian and the Middle East provide multi-national insurers such as Zurich more profitable returns.
The Swiss based insurer Zurich has reiterated that it remains devoted to the Spanish life and general insurance market and is still committed to its other Spanish bancassurance partners within the country.
Insurance Companies Mentioned:
Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, Zurich Financial Services Group is an insurance-based financial services provider with a network of subsidiaries and offices in North America and Europe and also in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and other markets. Zurich is one of the world's largest insurance groups, and one of the few to operate on a truly global basis. With 60,000 employees serving customers in more than 170 countries, our business is concentrated in three business segments: General Insurance, Global Life, and Farmers.
New China Life Insurance
New China Life Insurance Co.,Ltd (NCI?has headquarters in Beijing and was established in 1996 It is a large national insurance company, with products including traditional protection products, bonus products as well as the products that have a strong financial management function. With sustained, healthy and harmonious development of the company, the brand value of NCI is a valuable asset.
Compagnie Libanaise d Assurances
Compagnie Libanaise d Assurances (S.A.L.) was established in the year 1951. Their paid-Up capital is LBP 22,500,000,000 (US$14.98 million) and their activities include insurance and re-insurance, withc offices in Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman.