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The crucial years for Generali

From Union Suisse, Fortuna, Familia and Secura to Generali Group Switzerland.


The Generali Group Switzerland consistently gears its activities to its customers’ needs. Financially, it achieved a sound technical result in the P&C sector and increased the volume of contracts concluded in life insurance.


The Generali Group Switzerland could look back on a successful financial year in which its figures turned out to be more than healthy. The strategic priorities were the long-term links with the parent company and the implementation on the Swiss market of initiatives aimed at further enhancing customer focus.


The Generali Group Switzerland increased its group profit and achieved its targets for the year. Its strategic priority was the realignment of the Generali Group. The changes it made consolidated both its global character and the Generali brand.


Generali achieved its goals under difficult conditions that resulted from both the strained economic situation and the determination of legislators to regulate. Premium volume increased both in life and property insurance business at a rate in excess of the average for the Swiss market.


With the market saturated and an unprecedented crisis raging, Generali succeeded in maintaining and consolidating its position both in life and non-life insurance business, while preparing itself in expectation of an imminent recovery. Despite this achievement, the adverse conditions meant that profits dropped.


Generali succeeded, despite economic tensions, in ENERALI achieving encouraging growth in its core business, and, indeed, dislodging the previous Swiss market leader in individual life business from its number-one position.

Even at a time of economic strain, Generali succeeded in gaining additional market share in its core business and becoming the Swiss market leader in individual life insurance with regular premiums. It also embarked on a new era by launching the "Genera" range of products. Now, in close cooperation with the bank BSI, it could also offer customers a choice from a diverse range of banking products, which was the ideal complement to the insurance products it already offered.


Generali managed to hold its ground through a turbulent financial year. The crisis on the world's financial markets had a considerable impact on the conditions under which insurers do business. Even so, the flow of new customers to Generali increased without interruption. The company was able to complete major projects to optimise its internal procedures and processes.


This year saw the successful completion of one of the most important projects in the company's history: In September, Generali General Insurance Ltd., which handles non-life business for the Group, moved its head office from Geneva to Nyon, where it would share its new home, a modern office building with state-of-the-art equipment, with a variety of units that had until then been dispersed between Geneva and Lausanne for lack of space. Generali General Insurance Ltd. had been based in Geneva ever since its foundation 120 years earlier under the name of Union Suisse. The Group had grown so much over recent years that the traditional base in the centre of the city on the Rhone had become too cramped. Opening the new centre of expertise and administration hub in Nyon laid the foundation for continued success in the future, while at the same time upgrading the company's capacities in Western Switzerland. Concentrating operations under one roof will streamline management and tighten up business processes.
The year also saw the 175th anniversary of the foundation of the Generali Group Switzerland's parent company, Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. Sitz in Trieste. It celebrated the occasion by giving its more than 66,000 employees worldwide free shares as an expression of thanks for their services and of its esteem for them.


This year saw major changes in the shareholder structure of Generali (Switzerland) Holding Ltd. In the first quarter, Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. made the minority shareholders in Generali (Switzerland) Holding Ltd. a public offer to buy all the registered shares in public hands at the time. In July 2006, following this offer to buy, registered shares in Generali (Switzerland) Holding Ltd., which had first been offered on stock markets on 30 May 1996, having already been traded as shares in Fortuna Holding since 1985, ceased to be listed by the SWX Swiss Exchange. Following the merger of Generali (Switzerland) Holding Ltd. with Albula Verwaltungs- und Beteiligungs AG, and the absorption of the former by the latter, the minority shareholders in Generali (Switzerland) Holding Ltd. remaining after the public offer were compensated with an appropriate settlement at the end of August 2006. Albula Verwaltungs- und Beteiligungs AG then renamed itself as «Generali (Switzerland) Holding Ltd». Since the third quarter of that year, the Generali Group Switzerland has been fully integrated into the worldwide Generali Group.
This «Going Private» makes the Generali Group Switzerland more secure and more financially stable, while also creating new synergies, and will open the way to further growth and innovation in core business lines. That the premium growth – above average for the market – achieved by the Generali Group Switzerland was maintained through 2006 is confirmation that the long-term benefits sought by this development have indeed been achieved.


Generali continued to achieve greater successes under the leadership of its new CEO, Alfred Leu. It achieved premium growth in excess of the average for the market. Its earnings increased and it gained added financial strength. Various natural hazards, especially bad weather in August, brought all Switzerland's private insurers record losses. Generali had planned ahead and was well prepared for these risks. The beginning of 2006 saw the entry into force of the new legislation on insurance supervision and of the revised law on insurance contracts. Generali had prepared itself in good time for the obligations to act arising out of the revised laws and had set in motion the measures required.


For the first time since Generali, in mid-2001, had stopped actively selling group life insurance policies, there was renewed growth in the Group's total premium income.
The end of the year was market by change at the top of Generali Group Switzerland's operations, when Martin Zellweger retired as Executive Director of the Board of Generali (Switzerland) Holding Ltd., and handed over his management responsibilities to Alfred Leu.


The Generali Group Switzerland consistently pressed on with the strategic focus adopted in 2001. The core business on the non-life side was made up of motor vehicle insurance and other retail business. In life insurance, there was a deliberate focus on unit-linked life insurance with recurrent premiums. Generali Versicherungsberatung und Services AG was merged with Generali Personenversicherungen.


In mid-year, Generali discontinued the active selling of group life insurance policies. It was prompted to do this by the disadvantageous legal position, which made it impossible for this type of business to be carried on profitably. From now on, its business activities in the life insurance line would concentrate on life insurance for individuals. The acquisition of a new building at the Group's headquarters in Adliswil created new and strategically useful space and made it possible for people to work together to greater synergetic effect.


The integration process within the Generali Group Switzerland continued after the Secura insurance companies were taken over. Operations involving the Migros sales channel were bundled together in a newly-founded company, GENERALI Group Partner AG. Generali Personenversicherungen, St. Gallen, and Fortuna Life Insurance Ltd merged, operating from October onwards under the name of «Generali Personenversicherungen», with its headquarters in Adliswil.

The Union Suisse renamed itself as Generali General Insurances. Generali (Switzerland) Holding Ltd. acquired Secura Insurances from the Migros Cooperative Association. With effect from the end of the year, Generali General Insurances merged with Secura General, and Fortuna Life Insurance with Secura Life. Fortuna Investment Ltd. Vaduz was founded in Vaduz and started doing business.


Fortuna Life Insurance Ltd. Vaduz started operations.


Fortuna Holding was renamed Generali (Switzerland) Holding Ltd. The capital of Generali (Switzerland) Holding Ltd. was increased by the absorption of the Union Suisse Group. The standard registered share with a nominal value of CHF 50 was created.


The Italian Generali Group acquired the majority shareholding in Fortuna Holding from Tamedia AG.


Union Suisse became the majority shareholder in Familia Life.


All Fortuna's sales and marketing operations were taken over by the newly-founded Fortuna Versicherungsberatung und Services AG. The group life insurance segment was spun off from the Fortuna Life Insurance Company to become the Fortuna Personnel Insurance Company.

The first unit-linked life insurance products were created and Fortuna Investment Ltd., with the Fortuna Investment Fund, founded.


Fortuna was restructured as a holding company.


Union Suisse celebrated its centenary. The Generali Group became its principal shareholder.


Fortuna offered registered shares and participation certificates on the Zurich Stock Exchange. Union Suisse acquired a 20% stake in Familia Life, St. Gallen. The two companies started to run their agency network jointly.


Fortuna started to offer new products, among them daily hospital allowance insurance and life insurance for seniors, through direct marketing operations. «Union Suisse» started offering health insurance and insurance of valuables.

The Secura Insurance Company was founded by Gottlieb Duttweiler.


Familia Life was federally licensed as a life insurer.


The Fortuna Life Insurance Company was founded by the Tages-Anzeiger Group.


Union Suisse launched various types of insurance that were new to Switzerland, among them insurance against burglary and against water damage.


The Union Suisse was founded in Geneva by Otto Hosé and Hermann Steger. It specialised in insurance against glass breakages.