July 2, 2020 / 12:33 PM / a month ago

Allianz CEO sees business recovery in 2021 after coronavirus impact

MUNICH/FRANKFURT, July 2 (Reuters) - Allianz, which is facing headwinds from the coronavirus crisis, expects to be back on track in 2021 barring a second major outbreak or financial market correction, the German insurer’s chief executive said in an interview.

Allianz is among global insurers under pressure amid mounting claims for business disruptions, cancelled events and a lack of demand for car and travel insurance.

The German insurer has abandoned its profit target of between 11.5 billion euros and 12.5 billion euros ($12.98 billion-$14.11 billion) for the full year, blaming economic uncertainty resulting from the pandemic, and expects to post the first annual decline in profit in nearly a decade.

The company will provide an update on its outlook in August with its quarterly earnings.

“Yes, the result will be noticeably influenced but not something to worry about,” CEO Oliver Baete told Reuters in response to a question about his forecast update for the year.

“We hope that in 2021 that we are again more or less where we had originally hoped to be,” Baete said. In the coming years, Allianz is counting on further bouts of recession, corporate bankruptcies, low interest rates, and financial market pressures, all of which mean headwinds for Allianz, Baete said.

As the coronavirus crisis took hold, Allianz moved 90% of its workforce in March to work from home within a few days, and all business trips were cancelled. Baete said lessons had been learned from the experience, and that he too would work partly from home in the future.

“I am sometimes considerably more productive,” he said.

Allianz may need a third less office space in the long term, he said. Travel costs could be cut by half. The company’s life insurance segment has held up despite the lack of personal contact between advisors and customers during the crisis. “You will be surprised how well business is developing”, said Baete.

Baete said that he wasn’t planning acquisitions as market values still remain high. “We really are not planning this in the current situation,” he said.

$1 = 0.8858 euros Reporting by Alexander Huebner and Tom Sims Editing by Edward Taylor

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