German insurer Allianz aims to double premiums earned in Japan at a key unit to nearly $160 million over the next three to five years, banking on big Japanese trading and resource companies insuring their foreign exposures as they increasingly venture overseas.
Axel Theis, chief executive of Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS), a unit which focuses on providing services to large companies, told Reuters in an interview on Friday that Europe's biggest insurer had given up some business lines in Japan to focus on big companies.
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"Allianz has a history in Japan of more than 20 years, but until 2010 it was more like doing everything but not with a particular specific focus," said Theis, who was in Japan to meet clients.
"This has now changed. We deliberately gave up some businesses," he said.
Trading and energy firms in Japan have been actively seeking overseas buys to boost the nation's resources levels and take advantage of a strong yen. In one of the more recent examples, Japanese trader Marubeni Corp <8002.T> is in talks to acquire U.S. grain merchant Gavilon for $5.6 billion.
Allianz Global Corporate is Allianz's business and industrial insurance unit formed in 2006, which focuses globally on the 500 top companies listed in Fortune magazine.
The Allianz group has shrunk its businesses in Japan, but it is now growing in the corporate and specialty segment, Theis said. Over the last 30 months, the insurer has moved out of non-core business lines such as pet insurance, motor insurance and private household insurance, he said.
Allianz Global's Japanese arm plans to increase the workforce by 10 percent from the current 60 people after slashing the headcount by 35 percent over the last 30 months, he said.
Allianz Global's gross premium written income globally is expected to increase to more than 6 billion euros by 2015 from the current 5.3 billion euros, Theis said.
The insurer hopes to boost the premiums it earns in emerging countries to around 2 billion euros from the current 600 million, the executive added.
($1 = 0.7638 euros)
(Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)