Sales and Acquisitions in French Insurance Market

December 27, 2001

A flurry of year end transactions is changing the face of the French insurance market. The MMA-MAAF Group has reportedly agreed to acquire the French units of Swiss based Winterthur Group. CGU Courtage, the commercial brokerage unit in France of CGNU, will be taken over by Groupama-Gan, and Swiss Life will purchase the French activities of the Belgian-based Fortis Group.

Winterthur reportedly agreed to sell its French units as a move to reinforce its position in other areas where it has a larger market share. Its units generated gross premiums in 2000 totaling € 517.7 million ($463 million) placing it in 23rd place among French insurers. The acquisition will give MMA-MAAF access to the services of an additional 250 general agents, and better distribution of its products in eastern France.

CGU Courtage, which had gross income of € 426 million ($381 million), and a net of € 67.8 million ($60.7 million) in 2000, has been for sale since last October when its parent announced that it intended to concentrate on the life sector in Europe, and would therefore seek to sell off its p/c units. Groupama-Gan’s acquisition will bolster its position in commercial risk management.

Swiss Life, which already has a strong presence in France, following its purchase of Lloyd Continental in 1999, will further strengthen its activities with the Fortis acquisition. It will add approximately € 530 million ($474 million) in turnover, Fortis 2000 figures, to its € 3.2 billion ($2.86 billion) and will acquire 450 additional sales staff.

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