SKOPJE (Macedonia), November 5 (SeeNews) – Macedonian insurer Winner, part of Austria's Vienna Insurance Group (VIG), aims to increase its premium income by one-fifth to 305 million denars ($7.34 million/4.95 million euro) this year, its general manager Zoran Narasanov said.
The market share of Winner - Vienna Insurance Group AD Skopje, formerly Sigma AD Skopje, increased to 5.6% in the first half of 2009 from 4.1% a year earlier thanks to a rise in premium income by an annual 37%, Narasanov told SeeNews in an interview.
Winner recorded a gross premium income of 160.5 million denars in the first half of this year, according to Finance Ministry data.
Sigma, set up in 2002, was acquired by Wiener Städtische-Vienna Insurance Group for 368.5 million denars ($8.8 million/6.0 million euro) earlier this year, and changed its name to Winner to reflect the change in ownership.
“The company will be soon completely rebranded that entails comprehensive changes in the way of working and bringing new standards and better services,” Narasanov said.
He added that Winner is strategically positioned on the Macedonian market after undergoing restructuring to complete consolidation last year.
“In such a manner, we have created a business competition, potential and prospective,” Narasanov explained.
Currently, competition on the Macedonian insurance market refers more to *quantity rather than quality but soon a synergy and capital consolidation will improve the quality of the sector, he said.
Regarding the company’s future plans, Narasanov said that Winner will focus on “qualitative selectiveness in the insurance portfolio” that means attracting more affluent clients.
Winner also plans to add three branches to its existing network of 26 by the end of 2009.
According to Narasanov, Wiener Städtische-Vienna Insurance Group, a company with more than 180 years of experience, was interested in entering the Macedonian insurance market due to the market's development potential.
In times of global crisis it is very important to have prominent and powerful insurance corporations, which are also searching for markets that are hungry for a serious insurance coverage, Narasanov said.
“Our clients receive impeccable insurance treatment and ultimate protection, that is why I am optimistic that the crisis will not harm Macedonia’s insurance market, for which Vienna Insurance Group means quality, security, honesty, knowledge, innovativeness and stability," Narasanov said.
Winner's insurance portfolio includes third-party liability for motor vehicles, casco, accident, property, transport, travel, public transportation and border insurance.
The company has tremendously increased its non-obligatory assortment, creating its major accounts portfolio that includes insurance of government institutions, public enterprises, health system institutions, small and medium-sized businesses, as well as big companies, said Narasanov.
Winner’s capital totalled about 161.6 million denars at the end of the first half of 2009, Finance Ministry data showed.
Non-life insurance dominates Macedonia's market, contributing 6.2 billion denars of the market's total premium income of 6.4 billion denars last year. Twelve insurance companies, 11 of them majority foreign-owned, operate in Macedonia, a country of two million people. Foreign capital accounted for 75% of the combined share capital of Macedonian insurers at the end of 2007, up from 67% in 2006.
The Vienna Insurance Group consists of 50 companies and is active in 23 countries. In Southeast Europe it operates in Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Albania.
The group’s total premium written income rose to over 7.9 billion euro in 2008 from 6.9 billion euro a year earlier. Last year, it recorded a pre-tax profit of 540.8 million euro, up from 437.3 million euro in 2007.
(1 euro=61.6767 Macedonian denars)