Allianz in talks on Dresdner future

Allianz is splitting Dresdner Bank into two separate business segments (AP)

Allianz is in talks about the future of Dresdner Bank but it is not yet in a position to report on them, the chief executive of Europe's biggest insurer said yesterday.

"Discussions are currently taking place, although these have not yet reached the stage where I should like to report on them today," Michael Diekmann said in the text of a speech prepared for the group's annual shareholder meeting.

He told shareholders he did not want to make further comment in response to any shareholder questions so as not to compromise the insurer's negotiating position.

Allianz is splitting Dresdner Bank into two legally separate business segments, one for private and corporate clients and one for its Dresdner Kleinwort investment banking activities, which it aims to complete by the end of the year at the latest. "This step coincides with the first realistic possibility of a significant consolidation process on the German banking market," Diekmann said.

Allianz has worked hard to put Dresdner right after the bank ran up billions of euros in losses shortly after the insurer bought it in 2001. Pressure to sell the bank grew again when the global credit crisis forced Dresdner to write billions of euros off the value of its risky structured finance investments.

Diekmann said he was confident that Allianz would achieve a good operating result in 2008 because of its strong insurance business, despite expectations that it would be a tough year, with the banking business unable to meet its planned earnings contribution. Allianz made record operating profit of €10.9 billion euros last year.

Allianz has entered into a strategic partnership with HSBC, in which Europe's biggest bank will mediate property and casualty insurance business in Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, Diekmann said. (Reuters)
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