Incorporated: 1890 as Allianz Versicherungs-Aktien-Gesellschaft
Total Assets: EUR 852.1 billion ($895 billion) (2002)
Stock Exchanges: New York
Ticker Symbol: AZ
NAIC: 524113 Direct Life Insurance Carriers; 524130 Reinsurance Carriers (pt); 524114 Direct Health and Medical Insurance Carriers (pt); 524126 Direct Property and Casualty Insurance Carriers (pt); 524210 Insurance Agencies and Brokerages; 551112 Offices of Other Holding Companies; 522110 Commercial Banking (pt); 523110 Investment Banking and Securities Dealing
Once known primarily as a German insurance company, Allianz AG has grown to become one of the world’s leading financial services providers. Structured as a holding company of approximately 700 companies in over 70 countries, Allianz AG operates in three core business areas: property and casualty insurance, life and health insurance, and asset management and banking. In its property and casualty insurance sector, which is overseen by Munich-based Allianz Versicherungs-AG, Allianz is the leading insurance provider in Germany and one of the largest providers of corporate insurance in the world. The company is also the top life insurance provider in Germany, and recent acquisitions outside Germany have made Allianz an international leader in this, its second business segment. Under the auspices of Allianz Dresdner Asset Management, Allianz AG has over EUR 1.1 trillion under management in its newest sector—asset management and banking.
Early Years: 1890–1919
The company was founded as Allianz Versicherungs-Aktien-Gesellschaft in 1890 by Carl Thieme, director of the Munich Reinsurance Company, and the private banker Wilhelm Finck, at the time when the German economy had gotten back into its stride after a long depression and was entering the second phase of its industrial revolution. Taking advantage of the rapid spread of mechanization in the workplace and the steeply rising number of industrial and traffic accidents, Thieme and Finck began by concentrating on accident and liability insurance. From the 1890s until World War I, however, Allianz grew and prospered mainly through freight insurance, which with reinsurance has been fundamental to the Allianz story from its beginning. In the view of leading experts of the time, the freight insurance market was very overcrowded, but Paul von der Nahmer, Allianz’s second company chairman who led the firm from 1894 with Carl Thieme and from 1904 alone, spotted the great possibilities offered by the rapid expansion in the volume of German trade. In 1913, when Allianz had already become by far the largest German freight insurer, this division produced almost 45 percent of the firm’s premium income.
Before World War I, Allianz had already begun to extend its scope, although it was still far from offering a full composite range. In 1900 it received the first German license to sell plant insurance, and in 1911 it was also licensed to insure against mechanical breakdowns, a service available exclusively from Allianz until 1924. For three decades the role played in the firm’s business by these two classes of insurance did not increase, but Allianz’s expertise in this area due to its early involvement is one reason for the firm’s present undisputed position as market leader in the field of engineering—that is, mechanical, plant, and equipment—insurance. In 1905 Allianz included direct fire insurance in its list of benefits.
Growth in the 1920s
Allianz’s advance from medium size to the rank of largest insurance group in Germany took place within a few years, between the end of World War I and the mid-1920s. Before the war the Berlin-based firm had drawn only about 20 percent of its premium income from abroad. Afterward, like all German insurers, it was cut off from international markets almost completely but later, in a rise unparalleled in the history of German insurance, it came to dominate the whole industry. The foundation for this achievement had been laid by Paul von der Nahmer with his sound and farsighted financial strategy. As one of the few people to assess accurately the effects that war would have on the future of Germany’s currency and its insurance industry, he had taken early steps to provide Allianz with substantial foreign currency reserves that helped it to achieve an almost proverbial stability amidst the chaos of inflation. After his death in 1921 his successor, Dr. Kurt Schmitt, used these financial reserves to enable Allianz to establish the highest turnover of all German insurers.
In 1917, at the age of 31, Schmitt was made executive managing director. His innovations were to lead the company to the top of the German insurance industry and to a major global presence. He attempted to establish a foothold in all markets, to expand into all classes of insurance, and to extend the company’s international activities. The conditions of the Treaty of Versailles had stood in the way of the latter aim, but his efforts to make the firm active in all classes of insurance were therefore all the more successful. In 1918 he established the motor insurance company Kraft-Versicherungs-AG (Motor Insurance AG), the first large company in Germany to specialize in motor vehicle risks. Immediately after the war ended he also sought collaboration with large life insurance companies. When these negotiations unexpectedly broke down early in 1922, Schmitt, by then chairman of the board of Allianz, founded within the space of ten days the Allianz Lebensversicherungsbank-AG (Allianz Life-Assurance Bank AG), which by 1927 had grown into the largest life insurance company in Europe.
During the hyperinflation of 1922–23, numerous mergers speeded the firm on its way to the top. Specialist insurance companies were finding it particularly hard to survive, and the German insurance market was hit by a wave of mergers. Allianz concentrated on absorbing only those companies that would fill existing gaps in its own range, both of services and of regions served.
In the years of rapid currency depreciation, Allianz’s merger policy differed markedly from that of other companies. It succeeded because it was directed towards maximum rationalization. Whereas in other groups mergers tended to result in little more than a hodgepodge of individual companies, the Berlin group immediately welded all its member companies into an organic whole, created a new overall structure, and finally undertook radical rationalization at home and abroad. The latter task was achieved principally by Hans Hess, who had joined Allianz in 1918.
Until the early 1920s Allianz, in common with all other German insurance companies, employed outdated administration and organization techniques. The Allianz board was the first to realize that combating the effects of inflation and employee rationalization would have to be top priorities. Hess succeeded in introducing the basic principles of scientific management into the insurance business. By means of an assortment of technical and, even more importantly, organizational improvements, he managed a significant increase in productivity and a reduction in costs. He spread a network of branch offices across Germany and ensured that the latest equipment was installed. He replaced the old, strongly independent insurance agents, each working for several companies covering the most varied types of insurance, with agents trained in composite insurance and working solely for Allianz. He also set up a system of incentive schemes for employees, run with an element of sporting competition. Alongside this initiative came the extension of the social installations and services provided for staff. These measures gave the firm great stability in periods of crisis. Even during the world depression Allianz was able to maintain its volume of premiums and considerably increase the number of personnel.
Whereas during the inflation period the firm had concentrated on broadening its scope, after the stabilization of the currency in 1923–24 it set its sights on growth in volume. It was engaged in a major expansion of its capacities when in the mid-1920s a new wave of amalgamation policies hit German industry, and large groups formed for chemicals manufacture, electrical engineering, and heavy industry gave rise to a significant increase in risk potential.
In 1927 the group surprised the public by announcing a merger with the famous Stuttgarter Verein Versicherungs-AG, the market leader in accident and liability insurance. It was the largest merger to date in the history of German insurance. When in the summer of 1929 the Frankfurter Allgemeine Versicherungs-AG, the second largest insurance group in Germany, collapsed as the result of illegal, loss-making noninsur-ance deals, Allianz decided within 24 hours to meet all of the Frankfurter’s obligations to its clients. With Münchener Rückver-sicherungs-AG, Allianz immediately founded the Neue Frankfurter Allgemeine Versicherungs-AG to assume the Frankfurter’s liabilities. This dramatic rescue operation saved the whole insurance industry from a serious loss of public confidence and from state intervention in its affairs.
Our strategic objectives and our priorities reflect our commitment to making full use of the tremendous business opportunities brought about by the profound transformation of our markets. In this process we are guided by five long-term business principles. We believe that we can best serve our shareholders by giving priority to our clients. We realize that our continued success is based on our reputation, our acceptance by society, and our ability to attract and retain the best people. We foster the entrepreneurial spirit of our local group companies while providing the leverage of a global institution. We recognize that sustainable performance requires primary focus on operational excellence and sustainable growth, supported by profitable acquisitions. We aim to be among the top five competitors in the markets in which we choose to participate.
Prewar Germany and World War II
The industry could not, however, escape government interference after Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 and enlisted savers and insurance policy holders in his secret financial preparations for war. From 1935 onwards the regime obliged insurance companies to increase their subscriptions to government loans; from the summer of 1942 three-quarters of their investment capital was affected in this way.
It was in an attempt to protect the industry from this sort of encroachment that in 1933, after much hesitation, Kurt Schmitt agreed to become trade minister in Hitler’s second cabinet. He was convinced he would be able to restrain National Socialism and lead it in the direction he wished it to go. A few weeks were enough to make him regret his action; he gave up the attempt, and after a year took the first opportunity to withdraw from politics. In 1935 he became chairman of the supervisory board of Allianz Lebensversicherungs-AG and in 1938 he was made chairman of the board of directors of Münchener Rück. In 1933 he had been succeeded as chairman of Allianz Versicherungs-AG by his former deputy, Hans Hess, who during the whole of the Third Reich made no secret—even in public—of his profound dislike of Naziism and took part in the resistance movement against Hitler.
During the 1920s and 1930s Allianz expanded its range, venturing into completely new areas of insurance. Its innovations in the field of engineering insurance were particularly forward-looking. It was the first in Germany to offer installation and guarantee insurance, in 1923, and construction and civil engineering insurance, in 1934. While other insurers still saw their role purely and simply in terms of providing financial compensation for loss, Allianz built up an independent technical-advice and loss-prevention service. In 1920, using special engineers, it carried out the first regular inspection of power plants. From 1924 it also published Der Maschinen-Schaden (Mechanical Breakdown), a periodical that today continues to combine the utmost practicality with high scientific standards. In 1932 Allianz set up its first materials- and equipment-testing installation, which swiftly became a highly reputed center for loss research. The firm completed its activities in this area in 1938 with the introduction of a fire damage prevention service. Political conditions in the interwar years, however, meant that it could only scratch the surface of its international aspirations.
World War II hit Allianz hard. The head office in Berlin was completely demolished, and since it was situated in the eastern part of the city there could be no question of rebuilding it. The partition of Germany after the war also meant the loss of a large part of its marketing area, together with several of its most successful branch offices. At the end of the war the various specialized sections of the company were scattered all over Germany in various locations. There was no longer any headquarters. With the difficulty of communications between the western zone of Germany and West Berlin, particularly after the Berlin blockade of 1948, it became clear that in the interest of the company as a whole, Berlin must now be ruled out as a future base. The seat of the central management was therefore moved to Munich, and that of Allianz Lebensversicherungs-AG to Stuttgart.
Growth in the Postwar Era
In October 1948 Hess relinquished the chairmanship of the board of management. He was succeeded by Hans Goudefroy, who made it his business to preserve the assets of the Allianz group and its internal stability even after the currency reform of 1948. In the mid-1950s, under his leadership, Allianz completed its second phase of rationalization. The adoption of electronic data processing—in 1956 the board of directors started using one of Europe’s earliest computers—is a striking example of the many innovations embraced since then by Allianz. At the same time, by a rapid expansion of its foreign business network, the group regained its leading position in the German insurance market. Such dramatic growth was without precedent in Europe. Outstripping all other insurers, Allianz acquired a presence in every part of the Federal Republic of Germany, and owing to its new slogan, “… höffentlich Allianz versichert!” (I hope you’re insured with Allianz!). Created in the mid-1950s, it became known to virtually everybody.
- Carl Thieme and Wilhelm Finck found Allianz Versicherungs-Aktien-Gesellschaft.
- Dr. Kurt Schmitt becomes company’s executive managing director.
- Allianz creates Allianz Lebensversicherungsbank-AG (Allianz Life-Assurance Bank AG).
- Allianz merges with Stuttgarter Verein Versicherungs-AG.
- Allianz’s headquarters in Berlin are destroyed.
- Allianz establishes the Allianz International Insurance Company Ltd. in London.
- Allianz enters the American market with creation of the Allianz International Insurance Company Ltd.
- Company reorganizes its operations; Allianz AG is established as a holding company.
- Allianz acquires the state insurance company of the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany).
- Allianz acquires Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company.
- Allianz acquires Assurances Générales de France (AGF).
- Allianz purchases PIMCO Advisors.
- Allianz takes over Dresdner Bank.
During the 1950s and 1960s Allianz concentrated almost exclusively on the home market, with the emphasis on private insurance, though it did make some advances in the large-risk industrial sector, particularly in the area of engineering insurance. In February 1962, following the premature death of Goudefroy at the end of the preceding year, the chairmanship of the board of management was taken over by Alfred Haase, previously organization manager of the Allianz group. In a smooth transition, Haase carried on the work of his predecessor, further expanding the network of agents, developing the domestic private insurance business, and continuing internal rationalization. During his term of office the Allianz Allgemeine Rechtsschutzversicherungs-AG (Allianz General Patent Insurance A.G.) was founded; it commenced trading in 1970. Haase also presided over further developments in loss prevention. In 1969 the old testing installation was renamed the Allianz Center for Technology and in 1971 it was enlarged by the creation of the Institute of Motor Vehicle Technology.
New Leadership in the 1970s
At the turn of the 1970s the German insurance industry was faced with new problems, most notably a cost explosion due to steep wage rises throughout the whole economy. In addition a sharp increase in the accident rate had taken the motor insurance sector into the red. Competition throughout the industry was becoming much fiercer, too. Although Allianz’s turnover continued to climb, net yield began to fall. Into this very difficult situation stepped Wolfgang Schieren, who in 1971 came to the group as managing director. As had happened half a century before under Kurt Schmitt, there began a new phase in the firm’s history. Schieren began by ordering a halt to staff recruitment and instigating a radical cost reduction program. While competitors’ staff numbers continued to rise, the Munich group was already economizing in order to invest for the future.
A second consequence of Schieren’s appointment was that Allianz ceased concentrating its acquisition activities primarily on private insurance and gave equal consideration to large-risk industrial and commercial business. Within a few years the firm became the foremost German concern in this increasingly important sector, in certain areas of which, such as engineering insurance, it became a world leader. Restructuring of the organization of industrial insurance formed part of this new orientation. In 1987 an operation began that was to extend over several years, aimed at simplifying the hitherto complicated classifications of large-risk industrial insurance.
Finally, under Wolfgang Schieren, Allianz evolved from a domestically focused business to an internationally oriented insurer. In 1970 the group’s premium income was DM 4 billion, only 3.2 percent derived from abroad; by 1989, out of a total income of DM 31.8 billion, 40 percent came from foreign premiums. Allianz reacted promptly to the increasing internationalism of German industry as West Germany developed, from the beginning of the 1970s, from being a mere exporter to being a foreign investor. As Allianz expanded its services to industry, it wanted to offer its clients insurance coverage for their foreign investments, too. It was realized early on at Allianz’s Munich headquarters that dramatic changes were taking place in industry and that an insurer who was active only at a national level could no longer meet the needs of increasingly multinational enterprises.
During the first phase of these foreign activities Allianz tried to gain a foothold in foreign markets mainly by setting up new companies. The Allianz International Insurance Company Ltd. began trading in London in 1975, and similar companies were established in Spain and the Netherlands. In France the Paris board of directors was enlarged. In 1977 the firm ventured into the U.S. market for the first time, setting up the Allianz Insurance Company to deal in property insurance in Los Angeles. This development ended the first phase of Allianz’s foreign expansion.
In 1974, constrained by the legal upper limit set for foreign investors, Allianz had bought a 30 percent share in a Brazilian insurance company, which from then on traded under the name of Allianz Ultramar. In 1977 the group acquired from Commercial Union of London the Anglo-Elementar-Versicherungs-AG with headquarters in Vienna, and two years later, in the Unite States, the North American Life and Casualty Company, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as well as the Fidelity Union Life Insurance Company of Dallas. In the same period Allianz established a foothold in Australia, and in 1981 it moved into Chile.
The creation of this world network went almost unnoticed by the public until the beginning of the 1980s when Allianz, in a dramatic takeover attempt, tried to obtain a majority holding in the British Eagle Star Insurance Company. By June 1981 the German group had acquired almost 30 percent of Eagle Star’s shares. At the end of 1983 there was a battle between Allianz and the conglomerate BAT Industries for the remaining shares. BAT emerged the victor, though Allianz made a profit of £156.5 million by selling off the Eagle Star shares bought in 1981.
In 1986 Allianz did succeed in establishing itself in the United Kingdom, however, when it acquired from BTR plc the Cornhill Insurance Company, founded in 1905. Cornhill’s foreign interests afforded, among other advantages, an entry into the developing east Asian market. In 1984 Allianz had already taken a further step towards internationalism with the acquisition of a majority holding in the Riunione Adriatica di Sicurtà (RAS), the second largest insurance company in Italy. Through RAS’s wide foreign network Allianz gained entry into several countries in which it previously had had little or no representation.
International Expansion in the 1980s
Interests were acquired in Argentina, Spain, and Greece, and a new company was formed in Indonesia. In collaboration with local banks, life insurance companies were set up in Spain and Greece. In 1985 Allianz reorganized as Allianz Aktiengesellschaft Holding, to reflect its size and diversity. In September 1989, in the fight for control of the French insurance group VIA/Rhin et Moselle, Allianz acquired—within the space of a few days—first 50 percent, then 65 percent of the shares as the previous owner, the conglomerate Compagnie de Navigation Mixte, with the help of Allianz managed to fend off a takeover attempt by the state insurance company AGF and the bank Paribas. Another sensational acquisition, this time in Budapest at the end of 1989, was that of a 49 percent interest in Hungary’s former state insurance company Hungária Biztositó, which had come into being three years earlier when the state monopoly company was split into two parts. Allianz thus demonstrated its interest in any East European market willing to adapt to the free market economy. Finally, Allianz made a considerable stir at home by buying a 51 percent interest in Deutsche Versich-erungs-AG, which was founded on July 1, 1990, to take over the business of the former East German state insurance service. Other German insurers raised objections, to no avail, about the monopolistic nature of the takeover, and about the fire sale price paid—DM 270 million ($162 million). As part of the takeover, Allianz also obtained the right to purchase the other 49 percent of the firm, which Allianz later proceeded to do.
The crowning achievement among all these foreign activities was undoubtedly the $1.1 billion acquisition of the Firemen’s Fund Insurance Company of Novato, California, a U.S. property and casualty insurance group whose 1989 premiums of $3.4 billion made it the 14th largest insurer in the country. By this one move—which took place in Allianz’s centennial year, 1990—the Allianz group almost quadrupled its premium income in the United States. Another significant move came in 1991 when Allianz received a license to sell insurance in Japan, the first German insurer to obtain such permission. With this spate of activity, Allianz became the most internationally active insurer in the world.
This unprecedented expansion would not have been possible without group restructuring. The company’s erstwhile structure, with Allianz Versicherungs-AG functioning in dual roles as both a primary insurance company operating in Germany as well as a holding company, impeded the company’s expansion of its international activities and industrial involvement, as well as the growth of its intergroup reinsurance company. To rectify the situation, Schieren engineered the transfer of Allianz’s direct German property insurance business to a fully owned subsidiary named Allianz Versicherungs-AG (Allianz Insurance AG) in 1985. The interest in Allianz Lebensversicherungs-AG (Allianz Life Insurance AG) and the foreign subsidiaries remained under the holding company now trading as Allianz AG, which had also taken over the reinsurance business passed on by the Allianz companies.
Schieren would score one further coup on the eve of his retirement, which came in October 2001, when Allianz took over Dresdner Bank. Anticipating the coming elimination of barriers in the banking and insurance markets in Europe, Schieren wished to build a Europe-wide network of banks and insurance offices that would send clients to each other. The move was also seen as a challenge to German financial giant Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank and a competitor to Allianz in the insurance industry.
Links between German companies, such as the ones between Allianz and Dresdner, became stronger in the early 1990s. For example, both Dresdner Bank and Deutsche Bank each owned 10 percent of Allianz. The power of Allianz, however, was shown by its $230 billion in investments, including an average 10 percent stake in every public company in Germany. Most of these investments were credited to Schieren, who upon his retirement was succeeded by Dr. Henning Schulter-Noelle, former chairman of Allianz Lebensversicherungs.
Schulter-Noelle’s first challenge was to stem the hemorrhaging of Allianz’s newly acquired East German subsidiary, Deutsche Versicherungs. Thanks in large part to the difficulty of integrating the East German offices into the Allianz network, Allianz suffered its first underwriting loss in two decades, posting a DM 1.78 billion ($1.17 billion) loss in 1992. In response, Allianz reorganized its German operations and cut its East German workforce in half. In 1993 the company took further action by forcing its industrial policyholders to either pay higher premiums, improve risk management, or retain more risk. Through such moves the underwriting losses were reduced to DM 1.19 billion in 1993 and to DM 348 million in 1994. At the same time, operating results at Deutsche Versicherungs were steadily improving, from a loss of more than DM 550 million in 1991 to a loss of just DM 3 million in 1994.
In 1994 Allianz increased its capital base more than 6 percent through a share offering. The cash was to be used for further expansion, this time focusing on small and medium-sized insurance firms in Europe that did not feel they would be able to deal with the coming deregulation of the European market. The first such acquisition occurred later that year when Allianz purchased the direct insurance units of Swiss Reinsurance Company. In the purchase, Allianz gained the Swiss-based Elvia group, which propelled Allianz to the number five position in Swiss insurance; Lloyd Adriatico, an Italian insurer particularly strong in automobile insurance, which solidified Allianz’s number two position in insurance in Italy; and Vereinte, a German insurance company which Allianz was forced to divest because of antitrust regulations.
In the United States, Allianz’s Fireman’s Fund acquisition was suffering from a property and casualty market that continued to be depressed. Although premium volume increased a modest 6.6 percent in 1994, earnings were greatly affected by catastrophic losses totaling $116 million, more than $57 million of which resulted from the January earthquake in Northridge, California, alone. In 1995 Fireman’s Fund increased its reserve for environmental claims by $800 million as a provision against liability damages it might incur as a result of Superfund lawsuits.
Since the company continued to be nettled by underwriting losses, Allianz Versicherungs announced in mid-1995 that for large risks it would no longer abide by the quasi cartel rating system that held sway in Germany. Allianz’s new system would be based on the individual risk of the policyholder, leading to reduced premiums for good risks, increased premiums for poor risks, and eliminated policies for the poorest risks.
Additional Expansion in the 1990s
The late 1990s were a period of further expansion for Allianz. In particular, the company set its sights on developing its insurance business in Asia. After the Asian economic crisis of 1997, many countries in the region were more receptive to foreign investment than ever before. With such investments, Allianz stood to gain considerably if the wounded economies regained their strength. In 1997 Allianz announced its formal entry into the Chinese life insurance market with the establishment of a joint venture with the Chinese insurer Dazhong. This new entity, named Allianz Dazhong, began operations in 1998, and initially focused on selling life insurance through 300 agents to both mainland Chinese and foreigners living in China, though Allianz made no secret of its plans to expand into offering liability insurance services to large Chinese manufacturers.
Allianz also moved into Korea during this period. In 1999, the company took over the country’s fourth largest life insurer and renamed it Allianz First Life. The following year, Allianz gained a controlling 12.5 percent share of Hana Bank, the country’s fourth largest financial institution. Initially, Allianz concentrated on leveraging Hana’s distribution channels by installing agents from Allianz First Life at Hana’s 280 branches. But Allianz soon launched a 50/50 joint venture with Hana, named Hana Allianz Investment Management, to move Allianz into a new business area in Korea—asset management. The joint venture managed assets from Allianz First Life and Hana Bank at the same time that it offered equity and bond products and mutual funds and developed new financial services products.
Allianz sought to make key acquisitions elsewhere in the world as well. Significant among these was Allianz’s 1997 purchase of the French-based insurer Assurances Générales de France (AGF) for $10.42 billion. To complete the deal, Allianz waged a long battle with the Italian company Assicuriazioni Generali SpA (Generali), which was engaged in an attempted hostile takeover of AGF. Despite its complex nature—which ultimately involved Allianz giving control of AMB, Germany’s third largest insurance group, to Generali in order to reach a compromise—the AGF purchase offered Allianz clear advantages. As an analyst told the Wall Street Journal Europe, “[t]he acquisition will push Allianz toward the front of the European insurance sector.”
The company did not limit its sights to the insurance sector, however. Allianz’s entry into the asset management sector in Korea presaged a broader move into financial services worldwide. In 1998, Allianz established asset management as a core business activity through the creation of a new Munich-based division, Alliance Asset Management. Two years later, Allianz made this new focus clearer when it acquired a 70 percent stake in PIMCO Advisors Holding from the California-based Pacific Life Insurance Co. for about $3.3 billion. With over $256 billion in assets under management, PIMCO was one of the largest investment management companies in the United States. Allianz gained control of Oppenheimer Capital as part of the PIMCO deal as well, further expanding its market share.
The company was not ready to rest on its laurels, though. Hard on the heels of the PIMCO deal, Allianz bought the California money management firm Nicholas-Applegate Capital Management for about $2.2 billion. Although two years earlier, in 1998, Allianz had virtually no money management presence, the Nicholas-Applegate purchase made Allianz a dominant force in this sector with $604 billion in assets under management.
It took another year, though, for Allianz to fully realize its goal to become a full-fledged global financial services player. It did so with its high-profile 2001 takeover of Dresdner Bank A.G., Germany’s third largest bank. The cash-and-stock deal was valued at about EUR 22 billion ($20 billion). Although Allianz was already Dresdner’s biggest shareholder, the purchase gave Allianz full control of the bank, and in the process, created a finance group with a full range of insurance and banking products. As the Globe and Mail reported, the Dresdner deal went a “long way toward fulfilling Allianz’s vision of becoming a European financial powerhouse with tentacles in insurance, asset management, and retail banking. With [this] deal, Allianz could stake a claim to be one of the top five global financial companies offering a panoply of services in the style of U.S. financial giant Citigroup, Inc.”
New Challenges: 2001 and Beyond
Allianz’s acquisitions and diversification made the company significantly larger and more powerful, but were not sufficient to immunize it from the vicissitudes of the market and world events. The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001, had a catastrophic impact on Allianz, and the insurance industry as a whole. The day’s damage was estimated between $30 billion and $80 billion—the most severe loss ever incurred by the insurance industry. The downturn of the world’s financial markets after September 11 had an even more adverse impact on Allianz. Just as the company moved into asset management and financial services in a big way, stock markets plummeted and investors lost confidence. Allianz’s share price lost more than half its value as a result.
To counter these trends, Allianz boss Schulte-Noelle announced that 2002 would be a “year of consolidation,” in which the company would cut costs, integrate Dresdner Bank, streamline operations in its insurance business, and boost performance in asset management. However, it made little progress on these goals, and with a reported net loss of $1.2 billion, 2002 proved to be one of Allianz’s worst years ever. Schulte-Noelle stepped down and was succeeded in 2003 by Michael Diekmann, a 15-year Allianz veteran who had headed its insurance business in North and South America. In July 2003, Diekmann announced that he intended to slow the pace of Allianz’s expansion. Reaching profitability—not expanding its operations—would become the company’s primary objective.
Adriatica de Seguros C.A. (Venezuela); AGF Allianz Argentina Compania de Seguros Generales S.A.; AGF Brasil Seguros S.A.; Allianz Compania de Seguros S.A. (Chile); Allianz Corn-hill Insurance (Far East) Ltd. (Hong Kong); Allianz Elementar Versicherung-AG (Austria); Allianz Fire and Marine Insurance Japan Ltd.; Allianz First Life Insurance Co. Ltd. (South Korea); Allianz Globus Marine Versicherungs-AG; Allianz Insurance Company (U.S.A.); Allianz Insurance Company of Canada; Allianz Insurance Ltd. (South Africa); Allianz Insurance of Namibia Ltd.; Allianz Insurance (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.; Allianz Irish Life Holdings; Allianz Lebensversicherungs-AG; Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (U.S.A.); Allianz Mexico S.A. Compania de Seguros; Allianz Nederland N.V.; Allianz poist’ovna, a.s. (Slovakia); Allianz pojist’ovna, a.s. (Czech Republic); Allianz Subalpina Società di Assicurazioni e Riassicurazioni S.p.A. (Italy); Allianz Tiriac Insurance (Romania); Allianz Versicherung (Schweiz) AG (Switzerland); Assurances Generales de France (65%); Assurances Generales de Laos; P.T. Asuransi Allianz Utama Indonesia Banque AGF (France); Bayerische Versicherungsbank AG (90%); Cornhill Insurance PLC (U.K.); Deutsche Lebensversicherungs-AG; Domus-Forsikringsaktieselskabet (Denmark); Dresdner Bank A.G.; EL VIA Assurances S.A. (Belgium); ELVIA Reiseversicherungen (Switzerland); Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company (U.S.A.); France Life (South Korea); Frankfurter Versicherungs-AG; Hungaria Biztosito Rt (Hungary); International Reinsurance Company S.A. (Luxembourg); Jefferson Insurance Company (U.S.A.); Allianz Hayat Sigorta T.A.S. (Turkey); Les Assurances Federales IARD (France); Malaysian British Assurance Berhad; Manufacturers’ Mutual Insurance Group (Australia); Monticello Insurance Company; Munchener Ruckversicherungs-Gesellschaft AG (Munich Re) (22%); National Insurance Company Berhad (Brunei); Ost-West Allianz Insurance Company (Russia); Portugal Previdente Companhia de Seguros S.A.; Rhin et Moselle Assurances Françaises Compagnie d’Assurances sur la Vie (France); Royal Nederland Schade; T.U. Allianz BGZ Polska Zycie S.A. (Poland); Zwolsche Algemeene Levensverzekering N.V. (Netherlands).
Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co., Ltd.; Müncher Ruckversicherungs-Gesellschaft Aktiengesellschaft; New York Life Insurance Company; Nippon Life Insurance Company; Prudential Financial, Inc.; Prudential plc; Royal & Sun Alliance Group plc; State Farm Insurance Companies.
“Allianz, the First of the Few,” Economist, August 11, 1990, pp. 79–80.
“Allianz to Hike Rates: Policyholders Drafted into War on Underwriting Losses,” Business Insurance, November 8, 1993, pp. 25, 27.
Arps, Ludwig, Wechselvolle Zeiten: 75 Jahre Allianz Versicherung 1890–1965, Munich: Allianz-Versicherungs-AG, 1975.
Borscheid, Peter, 100 Jahre Allianz 1890–1990, Munich: Allianz Aktiengesellschaft Holding, 1990.
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“Hana Bank, Allianz to Form Strategic Partnership,” Korea Times, March 6, 2000.
Kirk, Don Lewis, “Allianz Goes Own Way in Setting Rates,” Business Insurance, June 5, 1995, pp. 39–40.
Raghavan, Anita, and Marcus Walker, “Insurer Allianz in Talks to Acquire Dresdner Bank,” Globe and Mail, March 29, 2001.
Rhoads, Christopher, and Marcus Walker, “Insurer Allianz Nears Deal to Acquire Dresdner,” Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2001.
Steinborn, Deborah, “Allianz Shares Poised to Rise on AGF Bid,” Wall Street Journal Europe, November 20, 1997.
Steinmetz, Greg, “Bigger or Better? Allianz Wants Both,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 1995, p. All.
Templeman, John, et al., “A Challenger for Germany’s Heavyweight Banking Title,” Business Week, August 12, 1991, pp. 36–37.
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—Peter Borscheid (translated from the German by Olive Classe)
—updates: David E. Salamie; Rebecca Stanfel