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INSURER Blog: Allianz and LV, a tie-up that could turn others green with envy?

lv-head-office-in-bournemouth
LV has admitted it has had several approaches for its GI business, with Allianz heavilly linked
Insurance Age content director Jonathan Swift picks through the potential of an Allianz - LV tie up to look at how both businesses might mutually benefit.
The news late last week that Allianz had held discussions with LV about buying a stake in its general insurance arm and the revelation the mutual had indeed had a few approaches for the business - after originally refusing to comment - got me thinking about the suitability of an Allianz-LV tie up.
And how it might look.
Here are is quick-fire four point brain dump.
1 ) It would give Allianz a shot in the retail arm
Last year Allianz UK confirmed plans to withdraw from direct home and motor with the loss of up to 170 jobs. A tacit acknowledgement that despite having a respected global brand, it just could not make the numbers work in these markets.
Axa and Zurich have had similar issues breaking into the direct UK market so this is nothing to be ashamed off, given its competitive nature.
But to be seen as a major player, Allianz probably does believe that it should be doing something here which is where LV could come in.
According to LV’s 2016 accounts £1.1bn (70% of its overall £1.58bn GWP) came from motor.
Its overall direct business accounted for £913m of GWP and totalled 3.6 million customers.
Given Allianz’s original plan was for no new business to be accepted after 30 June 2016 and no renewals invited after 31 July 2016, the timing of an LV deal could be handy in helping replace any lost premium in the 2017 accounts.
2 ) Could an affinity deal be the first stepping stone in a longer term deal?
It should not be forgotten that Allianz still operates in personal lines markets through brokers and affinity deals, especially on the motor manufacturing side.
Indeed, I remember speaking to Allianz CEO Jon Dye – then retail boss – in 2010 when it unveiled its tie up with Volkwagen and he said he saw no reason why the insurer could not wrap up an affinity deal the size of Tesco.
"That is obviously at the thick end of that market, so you'd have to look at the financial dynamics to see if it worked for Allianz. But could we do a deal of that size, yes, why not. This is Allianz, it is an enormous business."
A similar arrangement for LV would certainly bring that size of book onto the Allianz balance sheet looking at the number involved.
It would also offer a degree of symmetry given the management force behind the LV GI growth came from Churchill, who made their own mark taking home and motor books off the hands of life insurers such as Pearl and the Prudential.
In terms of branding, one would guess it could start as LV, mutate into LV-Allianz and then settle on the mother brand Allianz if it changes from an affinity partnership to a fully-fledged takeover.
This would mirror the way the much loved Cornhill name ultimately disappeared from our consciousness after a interim time as Allianz Cornhill.
Allianz might have failed to go direct before, but it has never had the jump start of this kind of volume.
Where this leaves the LV broker business is another discussion altogether, but one suspects any branding change would happen a lot quicker here if a deal ever materialised.
3) Any hook up with Allianz would help LV fulfil its ambitions to be more customer centric and digital
Writing in its 2016 annual report, LV’s new group CEO Richard Roney cited “digital” and “customer centricity” as two of the key factors in its continued growth.
“Over the next five years we expect to see increasing disruption in the general insurance market. We expect to fully play our part in this and our focus is in two areas,” he continued.
“The first is combining the best of technology with the excellent customer service for which LV is well known. The second is new technology as car manufacturers move from partial automation to full automation.”
Given its relationships with the likes of VW and its ability to tap into resources such as theAllianz Factory in Munich, the German insurer has resources that LV could only dream of.
Even if Allianz acquired a minority stake in LV’s GI business, say 30% – as has been speculated – one suspects that it would allow the insurer’s UK team in behind the curtain of its innovation hub, allowing it to better compete and improve the value of its shareholding.
4) An oval shaped heart
Allianz’s name proudly adorns the stadium - sorry Park - that belongs to the kings of Europe.
In football the German insurer has not been able to say that since 2012-13; but in rugby union Saracens this week retained their European crown, continuing Allianz’s successful sponsorship of the North London team since 2012.
Interestingly LV sponsored the Anglo-Welsh rugby cup from 2009 – 2015, the last winners of which were Allianz-sponsored Saracens.
Could the Allianz-LV tie-up have been originally born out a mutual love of rugger?
So there you have it, just some initial thoughts on one of the biggest insurance stories of the year.
In the end LV might decide to put aside its Ogden worries and plans to raise funds to improve its balance sheet and/or acquire rivals such as Royal London, to carry on as before.
But with Markerstudy also rumoured to be looking at options including a full or partial sale/fund raising, the aftershocks of the change to the discount rate are likely to be felt for months.
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