The EBRD is investing up to €
11.2mn to acquire a 15% stake in UNIQA Biztos Rt, an insurance company organised as a joint stock company under the laws of the Republic of Hungary, through subscription for newly issued shares. UNIQA Biztos is an indirect wholly- owned subsidiary of Austria’s UNIQA Versicherungen, which has a regional expansion strategy with a special attention to Central and Eastern Europe.
The equity investment comes under a €
70mn framework agreement between the EBRD and UNIQA that can be used across all of the EBRD’s 27 countries of operations. So far the bank has invested in UNIQA subsidiaries in Croatia, the Czech Republic and Poland.
In Hungary, UNIQA presently ranks sixth and is growing strongly. The company’s goal is to become a fully-fledged financial service provider offering innovative new products, with small and medium-sized enterprises with the retail segment as its core business.
Jonathan Woollett, EBRD director for non-bank financial institutions, says the bank’s investment will help UNIQA Biztos to further develop its insurance activities with a national focus to meet the challenges of the fast developing Hungarian insurance sector. This should ultimately increase competition on the market and benefit the insurance companies “clients. With its knowledge of local markets the EBRD is complementing UNIQA’s expertise, he adds.
Konstantin Klien, UNIQA director general, says the framework agreement and EBRD’s investment in our subsidiaries in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland and now in Hungary is an impressive recognition of UNIQA’s international expertise and endorses its focus on the Central European core market. The cooperation with the EBRD increases our capability to further expand in the region, he adds.
The Hungarian insurance market has been expanding rapidly over the past 10 years, but still lags behind the EU average. In 2003 the total market amounted to more than €
2bn. UNIQA is the leading Austrian insurance company and ranks among the top 35 insurers operating in the EU.