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euro adhoc: Generali Holding Vienna AG
Holding Vienna declares increased dividend
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Generali Holding Vienna declares increased dividend
Generali Holding Vienna AG to distribute 68 per cent more to shareholders. Generali Vienna Group reports tripled profit from ordinary activities and doubled net profit for the year. Booming results and premium income recorded by the Generali insurance subsidiaries in Central and Eastern Europe.
The Generali Vienna Group's "fitness regime" of recent years bore fruit in the group's record results during 2004. Listed group parent Generali Holding Vienna AG has therefore announced a hike in its distribution to shareholders, resulting in a dividend of 25 cents and a bonus of 17 cents or a total of 42 cents per no-par share for 2004, as against a dividend of 20 cents and a bonus of 5 cents or a total of 25 cents per share for 2003. That will increase the total distributed to shareholders by 68 per cent on the year to EUR 26.9 million. By increasing its distribution this much, Generali is letting its shareholders share in the group's excellent development both inside Austria and in its markets in Central and Eastern Europe.
Generali Vienna Group: Major improvement in consolidated results
This financial services provider - which is active in Austria and seven countries in Central and Eastern Europe - nearly tripled its profit from ordinary activities in 2004, increasing it from EUR 32.5 million to EUR 90.2 million. The group's net profit for the year more than doubled from EUR 20.5 million to EUR 52.4 million. According to the current provisional figures for the group, calculated in conformity with the accounting and reporting standards laid down in Austria's Handelsgesetzbuch (commercial code), the premium income of the group's 13 insurance insurance companies increased by 6.7 per cent to EUR 2.83 billion. As group CEO Karl Stoss stressed, "This growth is all the more remarkable given our continued strict adherence to the principle of putting profit before turnover during 2004." The Generali Vienna Group's consolidated premium income in the life and health insurance segments grew by 10.7 per cent to EUR 1.03 billion, while premium income in the property/casualty insurance segment grew by 4.5 per cent to EUR 1.80 billion. That increased the proportion of aggregate premium income accounted for by life and health insurance business to 36.5 per cent.
Combined ratio reduced by 21.5 percentage points in the space of two years
This significant reduction in combined ratio has been one reflection of the Generali Vienna Group's success. As insurance claims and benefits fell by 3.6 per cent to EUR 2.02 billion during 2004, the Generali Vienna Group's combined ratio also improved significantly. In the words of Karl Stoss, "The reduction in our gross combined ratio from 97.2 per cent to 94.9 per cent was attributable to our selective underwriting policy, vigorous claims management and particularly favourable weather conditions." The group's high combined ratio of 116.4 per cent in 2002 was mainly due to disastrous flooding.
Boom in Central and Eastern Europe: Premium income grows by 26 per cent
Action taken to boost premium income and net profit in Central and Eastern Europe paid off in full during 2004, when premium income in the group's seven national markets in the region - Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Croatia - grew by 26.2 per cent to EUR 794.4 million. As a result, Central and Eastern Europe already accounted for 28.0 per cent of the group's aggregate premium income, as against just 23.7 per cent the year before. Generali enjoyed a veritable boom in the Central and Eastern European life and health insurance markets, where premium income grew by 30.8 per cent to EUR 238.8 million. The group's sales organizations also did well in property/casualty lines, where premium income grew by 24.3 per cent to EUR 555.7 million. The rapid growth in premium income was not achieved at the expense of earnings. Quite the reverse: The Generali insurance subsidiaries in Central and Eastern Europe tripled their net profit to EUR 22.6 million in 2004, having recorded their first net profit for the year - of EUR 7.1 million - in 2003.
Austria: Record net profit for the year of EUR 58 million
The Generali Group's business canvassing policy in Austria remained firmly profit-orientated. That paid off amply. While premium income recorded by the group's operating insurance companies grew by 1.4 per cent to EUR 1.97 billion, they reported record net profit for the year of EUR 58.1 million. That compared with EUR 12.5 million in 2003. Despite the elimination of unprofitable business, premium income from property/casualty insurance business in Austria grew by 0.2 per cent to EUR 1.23 billion. Reflecting the development of interest rates, single-premium payments in the life insurance segment were cut by 21.8 per cent to EUR 53.9 million. On the other hand, Generali's premium income from health insurance and recurring-premium life insurance business increased by 6.1 per cent to EUR 678.5 million. In the life insurance segment, the new MAXX Invest line - which offers the investor a capital guarantee and "performance protection" - did particularly well. Although this innovative savings solution has only been on sale since the autumn, it already accounted for 25 per cent of new business volumes in 2004.
Generali Holding Vienna AG: Substantial increase in distribution to shareholders
Premium income recorded by Generali Holding Vienna AG - the Generali Vienna Group's listed holding company and reinsurer - grew by 5.8 per cent to EUR 982.7 million. This growth was primarily attributable to a sharp increase in reinsurance assumptions from the Generali subsidiaries in Central and Eastern Europe. The company's net profit advanced from EUR 34.9 million to EUR 39.2 million. The realization of the gains from the liquidation of Holdux Beteiligungsgesellschaft, Basel, had originally been planned for 2004 but will in fact only take effect in 2005. After augmenting its reserves, the company posted net income for the year of EUR 27.0 million (2003: EUR 15.9 million). Its distribution will increase considerably on the year. The General Meeting of Shareholders of Generali Holding Vienna AG scheduled for 25 May 2005 will be asked to approve the distribution of a dividend of 25 cents and a bonus of 17 cents per no-par share (previous year: dividend of 20 cents and 5-cent bonus).
Stoss: "Full steam ahead into the second half of the decade"
As Karl Stoss stressed during the presentation of the Annual Financial Statements of Generali Holding Vienna AG in Vienna on 24 February 2005, "The challenges of 2004 were superbly mastered under the leadership of my predecessor Dietrich Karner." He went on to say that the Generali Vienna Group attained its goals, substantially improving results, significantly reducing its combined ratio and recording profit-orientated growth in premium income. "Now we need to build on those solid foundations to achieve a powerful start into the second half of the decade." Looking to the future, Stoss - CEO of the Generali Vienna Group since the beginning of 2005 - said that the group will be working "full steam ahead". He cited a variety of initiatives launched in Austria during the first few weeks of the new year as typical of the group's fresh market offensive, namely an attractive new premium scale in the motor-vehicle insurance segment, the extension of private health insurance lines to encompass alternative and holistic medical care, and the new combined banking and insurance products marketed by Generali Bank. A number of successful launches have also taken place in Central and Eastern European markets. For instance, the VUB Generali dss pension fund in Slovakia has got off to a powerful start, already attracting over 100,000 savers. Meanwhile Generali's pension fund in Poland is one of the market's prime performers and has, as a result, been allocated over 21,000 new customers by the Polish state during the past six months.
As Karl Stoss went on to say, "Our goal is clear: We want to substantially strengthen our position as one of the most powerful insurance groups in Central and Eastern Europe while still remaining a major player in the Austrian insurance market."
The Consolidated Financial Statements for 2004 prepared in conformity with the International Accounting Standards will be presented on 22 April 2005. The individual Annual Financial Statements of Generali Holding Vienna AG will be available in the Internet from 24 February 2005 at http://holding.generali.at
end of announcement euro adhoc 24.02.2005 07:30:00
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