UNIQA Insurance Group AG

EANS-News: UNIQA Insurance Group AG
UNIQA launches largest investment programme in the company's history

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Strategic management decisions

UNIQA launches largest investment programme in the company's history 

- 2015: UNIQA on track for record result 
- 2016: launch of the largest investment and innovation programme in the
company's history amounting to around EUR500 million 
- Digital transformation drives innovation and new business models 
- Amended earnings forecast for 2016 due to investments and challenging
- Intention for a sustainably progressive dividend policy with annual increases
of the dividend per share up to 2020

2015: best annual result in the company's history
UNIQA CEO Andreas Brandstetter delivers a positive summary of the progress so
far of the "UNIQA 2.0" growth strategy launched in 2011. "In the last five
years, we have rigorously pursued and largely achieved our ambitious targets,"
Brandstetter says. "Since the economic capital ratio according to Solvency II
(EIOPA standard formula) has been strengthened step by step over the last years
to over 180 per cent, UNIQA now has a healthy, strong equity base and high
operating profitability. Following the re-IPO in 2013, we have created a
corporate structure fit for the capital market and continuously increased the
number of customers from 7.5 million in 2011 to more than 10 million today,"
says Brandstetter on the significant momentum of development in recent years.
As a result of this strategy programme set to run until 2020, UNIQA generated
the best nine-month result in the company's history at the end of the third
quarter with EBT of EUR301.9 million. "In the 2015 financial year, we expect to
achieve the best result in the company's history," says Brandstetter, giving a
forecast of financial year 2015 results. 

UNIQA launches EUR500 million investment and innovation programme 

Brandstetter sees digitalisation as a key driver of new business models
converging from the "new and old economy" and one of the biggest challenges
UNIQA will have to face in the future. The diversity of convergent product and
service offers emerging in recent years is leading in particular to fundamental
changes in customer expectations and behaviour. This disruptive development of a
new market environment sets UNIQA the challenge of rethinking the own business
model and the underlying products and processes from the customers' perspective.
"The digitalisation and digital networking of existing offers, which UNIQA has
successfully promoted in recent years, are the first steps in the right
direction, but they will be far from sufficient," says Brandstetter, pointing to
examples such as the "SafeLiner" in car insurance or the VitalCoaches and
medical call centre in healthcare. "We have to bring our offering much closer to
where our customers intuitively expect security and associated services," says
"In order to trigger the necessary innovation boost, we are launching the
largest innovation programme in the company's history and will invest around
EUR500 million in our future over the next few years. The investments, a good
portion of which will be made in 2016, will largely go on the redesign of the
business model, the necessary build-up of staff expertise and the required IT
systems," Brandstetter specifies. "In the core business, we are transforming
ourselves from a provider of insurance products into an integrated service
provider that meets customers in their 'needs environment'," says the UNIQA CEO.
In the future, this may be the application-controlled 'smart home', the
self-driving car or any form of free-time activity that aims at a healthy,
better and longer life. An essential requirement for this is the best possible
convergence of new technology with the already close-knit network of local UNIQA
The Supervisory Board's approval of this innovation programme is not just based
on UNIQA's comfortable economic situation and the fact that Austria's leading
insurer can afford these considerable investments. "We actually have to make
this investment right now, because we will thus meet the necessary requirement
of being able to continue on our ambitious growth trajectory in the future,"
says Brandstetter, explaining why a large portion of the EUR500 million
programme will already take effect in 2016. "The insurance industry is faced
with enormous challenges and drastic upheaval. Only those who invest now can
actively shape the future."

Low interest environment remains a challenge 

The second major challenge is the persistent phase of low interest rates, which
threatens to erode key parts of the business model of the entire insurance
sector in the medium term, Brandstetter continues. It is difficult to predict
what new conditions these developments, unheard of in the history of the
industry, will create in the medium term: "New phenomena, such as negative
interest on sovereign bonds, are already making a considerable impact on our
investment result," says the UNIQA CEO on the urgency of responding to the
current capital market environment. Operating excellence in the core business
must therefore be further optimised in parallel with the far-reaching
investments in the future. "We have implemented a range of programmes in order
to exploit new alternative investments, manage our capital even more actively,
adapt our current product portfolio to market conditions and continue lowering
the cost ratio in the medium term through the ongoing optimisation of our

Outlook for 2016

A good portion of the considerable future investments will take effect in 2016
and is thus reflected in the short term by an altered earnings forecast. In
combination with the persistently difficult conditions, such as the
still-moderate economic outlook, ongoing low interest rates, sinking investment
income and political uncertainty in individual markets in particular, UNIQA
expects significantly reduced earnings in the 2016 financial year compared to
2015. Preliminary figures for 2015 will be published at the beginning of March

Continuation of the progressive dividend policy with annual dividend increases  

UNIQA has distributed a higher dividend per share every year since 2012. With
dividend payments of 25 cents per share for the 2012 financial year, 35 cents
for 2013 and 42 cents for 2014, the UNIQA share has evolved into a progressive
dividend stock. "Despite the considerable investments in the future and the
challenging economic environment, we intent to still continuously increase the
annual distribution per share in the years to come," Brandstetter says of his
plan to continue the progressive dividend policy. 

In addition, Brandstetter presents shareholders with the prospect of the further
consistent continuation of the growth trajectory started in 2011: "Our target of
increasing customer numbers to around 15 million by 2020 remains valid," says
the UNIQA CEO. With a planned average operating ROE of 13.5 per cent (2017-2020)
and further increases in the economic capital ratio according to Solvency II
(currently more than 180 per cent according to EIOPA standard formula), UNIQA is
to retain its high level of profitability at the same time as a comfortable
equity base in the years to come. "On the basis of our strong economic position,
we will finance both the future investments of around EUR500 million and our
sustainably progressive dividend policy not by selling assets but from our
operating cash flow," says Brandstetter. "We will thus come a significant step
closer to achieving our target of becoming the best insurance group in Central
and Eastern Europe by 2020."

Forward-looking statements
This press release contains statements referring to the future development of
the UNIQA Group. These statements present estimates which 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

The UNIQA Group is one of the leading insurance groups in its core markets of
Austria and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). 22,000 employees and exclusive
sales partners serve more than 10 million customers in 19 countries. UNIQA is
the second-largest insurance group in Austria with a market share of around 22%.
UNIQA operates in 15 markets in the CEE growth region: Albania, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia,
Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ukraine. The UNIQA
Group also includes insurance companies in Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Further inquiry note:
UNIQA Insurance Group AG 
Norbert Heller
Tel.: +43 (01) 211 75-3414

end of announcement                               euro adhoc 

company:     UNIQA Insurance Group AG
             Untere Donaustraße 21
             A-1029 Wien
phone:       01/211 75-0
mail:     investor.relations@uniqa.at
WWW:      http://www.uniqagroup.com
sector:      Insurance
ISIN:        AT0000821103
indexes:     WBI, ATX Prime, ATX
stockmarkets: official market: Wien 
language:   English



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