20.02.2020

UNIQA: further growth in 2019

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  • Premiums written up by 1.2 per cent to €5,373 million
  • Combined ratio improved from 96.8 per cent to 96.4 per cent
  • Earnings before taxes stable at €295.7 million – adjusted for the sale of Casino, +19.5 per cent
  • Dividend proposal for 2019 raised by 1 cent to €0.54 per share.
  • Outlook: In 2020, earnings before taxes are expected to be at the level of 2019

Press release (11316 Characters)Plain text

  • Premiums written up by 1.2 per cent to €5,373 million
  • Combined ratio improved from 96.8 per cent to 96.4 per cent
  • Earnings before taxes stable at €295.7 million – adjusted for the sale of Casino, +19.5 per cent
  • Dividend proposal for 2019 raised by 1 cent to €0.54 per share.
  • Outlook: In 2020, earnings before taxes are expected to be at the level of 2019

“Looking back at 2019, it is clear that the entire Group has performed well: premiums are up, the combined ratio is down, earnings – adjusted for the sale of shares in Casinos Austria – have increased by over 19.5 per cent,” UNIQA CEO Andreas Brandstetter sums up the figures. “This result will allow us, for the eighth time in succession, to propose increasing the dividend this year by one cent to 54 cents per share to the Annual General Meeting.”

Acquisitions in CEE

For the current year, UNIQA has announced the acquisition of the AXA subsidiaries in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia: as a result, UNIQA will increase the number of customers by five million, the premiums written by €800 million and the number of employees by around 2,100. “The expansion is a growth spurt for the Group. We are investing in three growth markets in Eastern Europe, which have over 50 million inhabitants in total and which have recorded far stronger economic growth in recent years than Austria,” is how the UNIQA CEO justifies this step. With growth rates averaging 3 per cent in the last decade, the gross domestic product of these countries is significantly outperforming Austria’s, which is around 1.6 per cent. “The potential offered by insurance markets was also a decisive factor driving these acquisitions: in Austria, per capita expenditure for insurance is around €2,000 per year compared with between €400 and €500 in these three countries,” says Brandstetter. This is also reflected in the annual growth in premiums in the insurance industry: In Austria, it is expected to amount to 1.5 per cent this year, while it is significantly higher in Poland, at 6.2 per cent, in the Czech Republic, at 6.8 per cent and in Slovakia, at 2.7 per cent.

Solvency ratio remains strong

“In the course of recent years, we have worked consistently on maintaining a strong balance sheet and on our risk position. We are very well capitalised and will remain so even after the acquisition of the AXA companies,” is how Andreas Brandstetter describes UNIQA’s equity position. The target ratio for equity – that is the solvency capital ratio– is between 155 and 190 per cent at UNIQA. Following the acquisition, this will be in the upper third of this range. Closing is envisaged in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Group structure

In November 2019, there was an announcement on the reorganisation of the UNIQA Group structure – with the objective of becoming considerably more customer-oriented, leaner and more efficient. For this reason, in recent weeks an examination was made in respect of different options for simple, cost-effective and rapid implementation. In this context, on the one hand the holding company, UNIQA Insurance Group AG, will transfer service functions and designated participations to UNIQA Österreich Versicherungen AG. And on the other hand the re-insurance business will be merged with UNIQA Österreich Versicherungen AG and/or with UNIQA Re AG. Additionally, the holding company UNIQA International AG will be merged with UNIQA Österreich Versicherungen AG – which is subject to approval from the authorities.

The core of the new structure also became evident in November - a clear customer-oriented alignment of the entire organisation on the basis of establishing three Management Board areas for “Customer & Market”, which will be supported by six Management Board areas with Group Functions. Brandstetter commented, “This structure not only provides us with the right basis for our 3.0 strategy program, which we will present this year, but also gives us more power to deliver on our promise to our customers that we will support them in living safe, better and also longer lives.”

Provisional Key Group figures for 2019 in detail

Total premiums written by UNIQA increased in 2019 – taking account of the savings portion of unit- and index-linked life insurance of €309.8 million (2018: €320.5 million) – by 1.2 per cent to €5,372.6 million (2018: €5,309.5 million). As far as insurance based on recurring premiums was concerned, there was a gratifying increase of 1.4 per cent to €5,267.9 million (2018: €5,196.7 million). In contrast, premiums earned in single premium business shrank as planned by 7.2 per cent to €104.6 million (2018: €112.7 million).

UNIQA grew in line with strategy in 2019: premiums written in property and casualty insurance grew by 2.6 per cent to €2,846.8 million in 2019 (2018: €2,774.4 million). In the reporting period, premiums written in health insurance rose by 4.1 per cent to €1,130.8 million (2018: €1,086.4 million). In life insurance, premiums written – including the savings portion of unit- and index-linked life insurance – decreased by 3.7 per cent in total to €1,394.9 million (2018: €1,448.6 million). This was due, among other factors, to the planned reduction in single premium business.

Retained premiums earned (in accordance with IFRS) were even up by 2.1 per cent to €4,861.1 million (2018: €4,760.7 million).

Premiums written in the Group’s international business fell slightly by 0.2 per cent to €1,561.2 million (2018: €1,564.6 million). Here, recurring premiums rose by 0.2 per cent to €1,481.8 million (2018: €1,479.0 million), while at the same time, single premiums fell as planned by 7.2 per cent to €79.5 million (2018: €85.7 million). While premiums written in property and casualty insurance – primarily driven by a good performance across all segments in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Bulgaria – rose by 0.9 per cent to €1,076.9 million (2018: €1,067.4 million), they fell in health insurance from a low level by 3.9 per cent to €74.6 million (2018: €77.6 million). In life insurance, premiums written (including the savings portion of unit- and index-linked life insurance) reduced by 2.4 per cent to €409.8 million (2018: €419.7 million) because of the planned decrease in single premium business.

At UNIQA Austria, premiums written including the savings portion of unit- and index-linked life insurance rose by 1.8 per cent to €3,800.8 million in 2019 (2018: €3,734.4 million). Recurring premiums also rose by 1.8 per cent to €3,775.7 million (2018: €3,707.4 million), However, non-recurring premiums reduced slightly by 7.1 per cent to €25.1 million (2018: €27.0 million). While premiums written in property and casualty insurance rose by 3.4 per cent to €1,760.7 million (2018: €1,703.5 million), they increased even more sharply in health insurance by 4.7 per cent to €1,056.3 million (2018: €1,008.9 million). In life insurance (including the savings portion of unit- and index-linked life insurance), however, they fell by 3.7 per cent to €983.9 million (2018: €1,022.0 million).

Retained consolidated insurance benefits increased only slightly by 0.6 per cent to €3,657.1 million (2018: €3,633.7 million). Benefits therefore grew slower than the corresponding retained premiums earned (+2.1 per cent).

Total consolidated operating expenses less reinsurance commissions received and profit shares from the reinsurance business increased in financial year 2019 by 7.0 per cent to €1,407.1 million (2018: €1,314.7 million). Other operating expenses included here rose by 8.0 per cent to €499.7 million because of higher costs for personnel and IT (2018: €462.7 million). Expenses of €51.4 million were incurred in connection with the innovation and investment programme (2018: €43.4 million).

The total cost ratio – the ratio of total operating expenses to premiums earned including the net savings portion of the premiums from unit- and index-linked life insurance – increased in the past year because of the development presented above to 27.2 per cent (2018: 25.9 per cent).

The combined ratio after reinsurance decreased to 96.4 per cent (2018: 96.8 per cent) due to the relatively low expenses for weather damage despite the increase in costs at Group level.

Despite persistently low interest rates, investment income, at €585.2 million, matched the level of the previous year in 2019 (2018: €585.0 million).

The investment portfolio of the UNIQA Group (including investment property, financial assets accounted for using the equity method and other investments) increased as at 31 December 2019 compared with the end of the previous year to €20,624.8 million (31 December 2018: €19,337.1 million).

The underwriting result of the UNIQA Group decreased significantly by 25.2 per cent in 2019 to €99.5 million (2018: €133.1 million). Operating earnings increased slightly by 1.4 per cent to €354.9 million (2018: €350.1 million).

UNIQA’s earnings before taxes remained virtually unchanged despite the deterioration in the underwriting result, increasing only minimally by 0.4 per cent to €295.7 million (2018: €294.6 million). Net profit for the period also grew by 0.6 per cent to €236.5 million in the year under review (2018: €235.1 million). In 2019, income tax expenses decreased to €59.2 million (2018: €59.5 million), the tax rate amounted to 20.0 per cent (2018: 20.2 per cent).

Consolidated net profit (net profit for the period attributable to the shareholders of UNIQA Insurance Group AG) was €232.4 million (2018: €243.3 million). As a result earnings per share declined to €0.76 (2018: €0.79).

Equity attributable to the shareholders of UNIQA Insurance Group AG increased in the past financial year by €348.5 million to €3,320.6 million (31 December 2018: €2,972.1 million).

In 2019, the average number of employees (full-time equivalents) at the UNIQA Group rose slightly to 13,038 (2018: 12,818). Of this figure, 4,202 (2018: 4,271) were employed in sales positions. The number of employees in administrative roles amounted to 8,836 (2018: 8,547).

Note
All the figures for the 2019 financial year are based on unaudited preliminary data. The final consolidated annual report for 2019 will be published at the same time as the Sustainability Report and the Economic Capital Report on the Group website www.uniqagroup.com on 16 April 2020.

Outlook
For 2020 financial year, UNIQA is expecting a slight increase in total premium volume. Premium growth of around 2 per cent in property and casualty insurance and roughly 3 per cent in health insurance is anticipated. In contrast, a continuation of declining premiums in life insurance is expected.

UNIQA is also targeting a further improvement in its combined ratio in 2020.

In 2020, earnings before taxes are expected to be at the level of 2019.

In line with the progressive dividend policy, UNIQA intends to further increase the distribution per share by 1 cent to €0.54 for 2019 as well.

Forward-looking statements
This press release contains statements concerning UNIQA’s future development. These statements present estimates that were reached on the basis of all of the information available to us at the present time. If the assumptions on which they are based do not occur, the actual results may deviate from the results currently expected. As a result, no liability is accepted for this information.

UNIQA Group
The UNIQA Group is one of the leading insurance groups in its two core markets of Austria and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Around 19,200 employees and exclusive sales partners serve 10.5 million customers in 16 countries. In Austria, UNIQA is the second largest insurance group with a market share of around 21.4 per cent. In the CEE growth region, UNIQA is at home in 15 markets: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Croatia, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, the Ukraine and Hungary.

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Gregor Markus Bitschnau, Konzern-Pressesprecher
 
Untere Donaustraße 21
1029 Wien
Tel: +43 1 211 75-3440
Mobil: +43 664 889 155 64
Fax: +43 1 211 75-3619

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