Dimitris Contominas steps down as Chairman of Interamerican, to sell 3.3% of Eureko BV
December 20, 2005 -- Zeist, The Netherlands-based Eureko BV, parent company of Interamerican, one of the largest private Greek insurance groups, and Dimitris Contominas, Chairman of Interamerican, today announced that, in a mutually-agreed development, Contominas has resigned from Interamerican's board of directors. This move has been prompted by Contominas' increased focus on his other business interests in and outside of Greece, which occupy more and more of his time.
In a company statement, Eureko announced: "Following a period of very difficult market conditions, Interamerican has been undergoing a stringent re-structuring programme, aimed at regaining its market leadership and developing the agents' network, which is the key distribution channel. Contominas, with the rest of the management board of Interamerican, implemented a number of measures to re-energise the commercial vitality of the company, re-structure the agency network, and reduce the company's cost base, all of which will benefit its key stakeholder -- the customer.
"Now that the programme is complete, it is clear that it has been successful, and Interamerican will be able to report greatly improved results over those of 2004. It may, therefore, be viewed as a suitable time for Contominas to be able to devote his abilities to his interests in the energy and technology sectors, both in and outside of Greece. He has been the defining personality of the company for many years, but he leaves it poised to underwrite its position as Greece's best known and respected insurer.
"The new Chairman, Adrian Hegarty, with CEO George Kotsalos and his management team will continue the revitalisation process so that the company is in a good position to develop further and enhance its leading market position, whilst providing improved and more streamlined services to its customers."
Maarten Dijkshoorn, Chairman and CEO of Eureko, said, "It is impossible to quantify Dimitris Contominas' contribution to the development of Interamerican. We would like to express our gratitude for his commitment to the company and to Eureko."
In its media release, Eureko also announced that the Dutch company "is wholly committed to supporting the whole [Interamerican] team in its plans going forward, and to its success in the years ahead.
"Eureko, Interamerican's parent company, views its Greek operation as the springboard for its development in the Balkans, and has fully supported the measures taken by [Interamerican's] management, and is impressed by the determination of the management team to make 2006 a defining year in the company's success story.
"Eureko applauds the recent actions of the Greek regulators in curtailing the operations of those Greek insurers that do not meet solvency requirements, and it is pleased to state that Interamerican has a strong solvency ratio.
"Eureko recently announced that it had completed the transaction announced earlier in the year, in which it acquired Interpolis, the insurance operation of Rabobank, merging it with its existing Dutch company, Achmea. At the same time, Rabobank increased its shareholding in Eureko, from 5% to 37%, making Rabobank the second-largest shareholder in Eureko. It is in the context of this new, pre-dominantly institutional shareholder structure that Contominas has also offered to sell his 3.3% shareholding in Eureko.
"Eureko and Interamerican view the challenges and opportunities of the coming year with renewed enthusiasm and confidence, and look forward to exploiting the opportunities that are presented."
Eureko BV is a privately-owned financial services group, registered in Utrecht, The Netherlands, whose core business is insurance, and which has operations in ten European countries. Eureko has evolved from its origins as an alliance of like-minded, independent insurance companies with reciprocal goals, to its position as a much broader group with a number of operating companies which it either owns outright, or in which it has significant, majority holdings.
Eureko has declared its intention to seek a stock market listing at the appropriate time.
The Eureko Group offers a full range of insurance - Life and Non-Life - and pension products, as well as asset management and banking.
Eureko`s philosophy is to create an integrated, pan-European group consisting of market leaders in the territories in which its companies operate, providing, 'local solutions, shared goals'. Each of its operating Ccmpanies has strong, dominant brands; they know their local markets intimately, and are customer-focused. It is this local expertise, with the backing of a strong European Group and the sharing of skills and experience throughout the Group which is the corner-stone of Eureko/s values. The Operating Companies retain their own names, as brand recognition in their territories is very strong.
Eureko's initial aim was to achieve an IPO during 2002. However, the downturn in global market conditions confirmed only negative investor sentiment, particularly in the insurance sector. It remains the objective to achieve a listing, but this will be dependent on market conditions.
Eureko operates a two-tier Executive and Supervisory Board. In 2003, the Boards of Eureko BV and Achmea Holding, Eureko's Dutch operation, were integrated. The decision was taken to streamline the corporate governance and to simplify the organisational composition at the Holdings level, thus creating greater transparency, removing duplication of functions, improving efficiency and reducing costs.
The initial phases of the integration of the holdings were completed in July 2003, with 80 job cuts at the Eureko and Achmea corporate centres.
In March 2004, Rabobank Nederland acquired a 5% stake in Eureko.
In July 2004, Eureko announced the proposed merger of its asset management subsidiary, F&C, with ISIS Asset management of the UK - the new entity to be branded F&C Asset Management PLC. Following the satisfaction of all conditions of the merger (including regulatory consents and shareholder approvals), the merger was completed in October 2004, creating, for Eureko, capital value of approximately EUR 1.1 billion, providing significant financial strength for the next stage of its development.
Eureko will maintain a 21% shareholding in the new F&C, as well as a seat on the Board, and will remain a major client.
The merger has also realised Eureko’s stated objective (announced in January 2004) of achieving a stock market listing for F&C:
The Eureko Group comprises Achmea, Friends First, Interamerican, Union, Imperio France and also has a strategic 31.8% investment in PZU of Poland. Eureko has start-up operations in Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus.
INVgr's update (January 4, 2006)
Market insiders believe Contominas' 3.3% stake in Eureko is worth between EUR 300 million and EUR 400 million. One of his investment vehicles, Dievropaiki SA, participates with 0.69% in Eureko (2,34,072 shares), as at November 15, 2005, while his personal share in the Dutch group is 2.55% (8,722,752 shares). This month, Contominas also sold 70% of Best Line to Interamerican, while Kostas Bertsias, Interamerican's Vice-Chairman General Insurance, is believed to be setting up a new management consulting firm, Athens Dynamic Solutions, which is expected to be operating in the second quarter of 2006.
Contominas founded Interamerican in 1968 and became its CEO in 1974. In 1980 he became Chairman of the International Commission of Life Insurance Companies that participate in the world's largest life insurance marketing organisation, Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association (LIMRA). He remained as a member of the board of LIMRA until 1986. From 1977-1986, he was also vice president of the Greek Union of Life Insurers and in 1998 he was elected president. Additionally, Contominas has been a member of the Greek Commission of European Insurance with an advisory role on Greece's harmonisation with the European Union.
The Athens-based Interamerican Group has a 38-year history of leading the Greek insurance market. Today, Interamerican is one of the largest Life and Health insurance companies in Greece with a market share of 14% and the fourth-largest in Non-Life, with a market share of approximately 6.5%. The Group is also active in Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus.
The company offers a constantly expanding range of innovative products and services in the area of Life insurance, Income Protection, Savings and Investments, Health Care, Credit Cards, Retirement Planning, Emergency Assistance and General Insurance covering all private and corporate insurance needs.
With more than 2,900 highly-trained tied agents, Interamerican has built one of the largest and most dynamic distribution networks in Greece. Additionally, the company is expanding its distribution capabilities in the bancassurance channel through its co-operation with NovaBank and EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA, a member of the Latsis-controlled EFG Bank European Financial Group, the parent bank of the EFG Group. EFG Eurobank Ergasias is one of the largest banking and financial institutions in Greece, listed on the Athens Exchange (ATHEX), offering all universal banking, asset management, insurance and other related services in Greece and Central and Eastern Europe.
NovaBank, headquartered in Athens, is a contemporary bank that was launched on September 21, 2000 with the collaboration of Interamerican and Millennium BCP, Portugal's biggest financial group. On January 11, 2002, Istanbul-based Sitebank AS signed an agreement with NovaBank SA transferring the insolvent bank's shares. Sitebank has since changed its name to BankEuropa and is a member of the Millennium BCP Group.
Being among the top-20 companies operating in the local market, in terms of reputation and prestige, with 98 out of 100 Greeks aware of its work, and more than 700,000 customers, today the Interamerican's brand in Greece is synonymous with security.
Interamerican was established in 1968 and became a societe anonyme (SA) in 1971 under the brand of Interamerican Hellenic Life Insurance Company. In 1988, the first non-insurance subsidiary, Intertrust Mutual Funds Management Company SA, was established as an initial step in the Group's expansion to the wider financial services sector. Intertrust was sold to EFG Eurobank Ergasias in 2004. In 1991, Interamerican Assistance was established to provide healthcare services, while in 1992 Interamerican Cards marked the Group's entry in the credit card market. Interamerican Road Assistance was established in 1993 and in 1994 Interamerican Romania, followed by Interamerican Bulgaria in 1998.
Interamerican aims to maintain its leading position in the Life and Health insurance business and improve its penetration and market shares in Non-Life business by combining its growth strategy with a continuous effort to reduce its cost base, leading to improved profitability.
The tied agents network will remain the primary distribution channel for Interamerican's products and services. Efforts will be directed at organising the network in a more efficient and productive manner, supporting its activities with new methods and technologies and increasing productivity by utilising new compensation systems.
In the bancassurance channel, Interamerican will continue to strengthen its existing co-operation with NovaBank and to develop a broader co-operation in the distribution of financial and selected Health & Non-Life insurance products with EFG Eurobank Ergasias.
Interamerican is concentrating its efforts on generating additional value from existing customers through cross-selling. A series of direct marketing initiatives will be implemented in order to increase loyalty rates and trigger new sales in several product lines.