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Oct 12, 2007 17:07 EEST
October 12 (SeeNews) - Slovenia’s largest insurer Zavarovalnica Triglav plans to enter EU newcomer Bulgaria where it aims to grab a 10% market share in an attempt to keep its leading position in southeastern Europe, the company’s CEO Andrej Kocic said.
Zavarovalnica Triglav has been on a shopping spree across the Balkans since the beginning of this year, buying a predominant part of Bosnian insurer Krajina Kopaonik as well as of Macedonia's leading insurer Vardar Osiguruvanje. Triglav is now in talks to buy an insurer in Bulgaria which joined the European Union (EU) on January 1, together with its northern neighbour Romania.
“It is not known yet if we will buy an insurer and which one we will buy. One of the possibilities for entering the Bulgarian insurance market is still the establishment of a subsidiary company,” Kocic told SeeNews in a recent interview. He declined to name the companies Triglav is in talks with and when the negotiations will be concluded.
State-controlled Zavarovalnica Triglav, the largest insurer in southeast Europe, with annual group premium income of around 700 million euro (while Triglav Group has 817 million euro premium income), has also subsidiaries in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Its goal for 2008 is to achieve group premium income of one billion euro.
“Our aim is to come close to a 10% market share in the long term on each market where we are present,” Kocic said. He declined to specify when Triglav hopes to achieve a 10% market share in Bulgaria, but added that if the company sets up its own subsidiary in the country, the period will be longer.
“We have decided to enter the Bulgarian market mainly because, under the Triglav Group’s strategy, we want to remain the biggest insurance group in the region of southeastern Europe where Bulgaria also belongs,” Kocic said.
The premium income of Bulgarian general insurance companies rose by 15.4% to 1.06 billion levs ($729 million/542 million euro) last year, according to data published by the country's financial regulator, the Financial Supervision Commission (FSC). Some 20 general insurers operate in Bulgaria. The market is seen rising faster in the coming years, catching up with the EU average insurance penetration rate and backed by the rising income of the population.
“We consider the Bulgarian market as promising and interesting. We think that we will be successful on this market with our experience, knowledge and offer of insurance services,” Kocic said.
Zavarovalnica Triglav is also studying the opportunities for entering the markets of Romania, Albania and Ukraine.
“We have been analysing also these markets for some time and they are in our medium-term strategy for expansion,” Kocic said. “The expansion to these markets is not on the agenda in 2007,” he added.
In August, the insurer said it had started the procedure for listing its shares on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange. “Zavarovalnica Triglav’s shares are planned to be listed on the bourse by the end of January, 2008,” Kocic said.
Zavarovalnica Triglav reported a 17% annual drop in half-year parent net profit to a preliminary 37.569 million euro ($53.26 million), which it said was due to the changes in the loss reserves methodology. It raised half-year gross premium income by 2.0% on the year to 392.9 million euro.
($ = 0.71 euro)
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