UNIQA eyes expansion after 2010 profits

Insurance company UNIQA Versicherungen AG (UNIQA) said its 2010 performance could have been better than expected.The firm said today (Fri) that some weeks ago it expected profits of around 120 to 135 million Euros, while analysts predicted profits of 142 million Euros. Now the Vienna-based insurer has explained that it may have achieved a pre-tax profit of 135 to 140 million Euros last year. UNIQA added that final figures for the past year will be presented in April.UNIQA said it did especially well abroad as overall business activates in countries outside Austria rose by more than 20 per cent year on year. The insurer announced that it raked in the most money with its life insurance services, it managing a 12.9 per cent earnings increase year on year to 2.66 billion Euros in 2010.The company said that it grew in all of the south-eastern European countries in which it operates, apart from in Romania where it was forced to carry out restructuring measures last year.UNIQA chief Konstantin Klien announced today the uplifting news regarding its performance last year will enable the firm to make acquisitions abroad as of midyear 2011.Klein explained that he will await the European Commission’s (EC) decision regarding its Solvency II regulation programme which will determine insurance companies’ equity ratios requirements.”We will then decide where it makes sense to gear up and expand,” Klien told Austrian business media today.The EC is expected to make its decision public in March.UNIQA announced in September that deputy chairman Andreas Brandstetter will succeed Klien as executive chief next June. Brandstetter entered the firm’s board in 2002 – the same year Klien became its chief.UNIQA was created following the merger of two now defunct Austrian insurance companies in 1999. It entered the Vienna Stock Exchange (WBAG) in the same year. One share was valued at 15 Euros at 2pm today.Meanwhile, Vienna Insurance Group (VIG) – one of UNIQA’s main competitors – said it achieved a pre-tax profit of 505 million Euros in 2010, up by 15 per cent compared to 2009. VIG added its earnings rose as well. The company announced they climbed by 4.5 per cent to four billion Euros year on year in 2010.