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Allianz warns year ahead uncertain after strong 2016

Friday, February 17, 2017 - 16:38

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German insurance giant Allianz reported a rise in profits for 2016 and increased its dividend, but warned that political and market uncertainty could make for an unpredictable 2017.

[FRANKFURT] German insurance giant Allianz reported a rise in profits for 2016 and increased its dividend, but warned that political and market uncertainty could make for an unpredictable 2017.

Allianz increased net profit by four per cent to 6.9 billion euros (S$10.5 billion) in 2016, it said in a statement late Thursday, slightly overshooting analysts' forecasts.

The firm notched up 122 billion euros in revenues last year, down 2.2 per cent from 2015, but still beating its own forecast.

Operating, or underlying profit edged up 0.9 per cent 10.8 billion euros.

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In the fourth quarter alone, Allianz booked a 23-per cent increase in net profit to 1.7 billion euros.

"Positive developments in all business segments" had put the group "on track" to meet its goals for 2018, said chief financial officer Dieter Wemmer.

The life and health insurance unit put in the best performance among the group's divisions, with operating profit there growing by 9.3 per cent.

By contrast, operating profit at the property and casualty insurance arm fall back 4.2 per cent and underlying earnings in its asset management division were down four per cent.

Nevertheless, it said it had achieved an "important milestone" for Pimco, the keystone of its asset management business, as investors entrusted more cash to the firm than they removed in the second half of the year - beginning a turnaround from the net withdrawals that had plagued it since the tumultuous departure of chief Bill Gross in late 2014.

Allianz plans to pay shareholders an increased dividend of 7.60 euros, up from 7.30 euros paid out for 2015.

Looking ahead to 2017, the group forecast operating profits around the same level as 2016, at 10.8 billion euros plus or minus 500 million euros.

The year remains "difficult to predict", chief executive Oliver Baete said, after a 2016 "filled with surprises, not all of them welcome, that challenged many assumptions".

Allianz also announced that it was launching a scheme to buy back up to three billion euros of its own shares.

AFP

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