Belgian insurer Fidea relaunches life business after acquisition by Anbang

Despite weak performance of life insurance, firm re-enters the market with the backing of a major financial group

Belgian insurer Fidea relaunches life business after acquisition by Anbang

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

Belgium-based insurer Fidea NV has relaunched its life insurance operations, two years after it was acquired by Chinese financial conglomerate Anbang Insurance Group.

Edwin Schellens, Fidea NV’s chief executive, accompanied 20 Belgian insurance brokers on a tour of Anbang’s headquarters in Beijing on Tuesday, in order to introduce Anbang’s international strategy to its Belgian partners.

Anbang bought Fidea NV in 2015 from American private equity firm JC Flowers.

“With JC Flowers it was strictly focused on short-term returns,” Schellens told China Daily, speaking about the return-driven strategy of the company’s former top shareholder. This behaviour alienated many brokers Fidea was working with.

“Let's work for a long time together, guys.” Schellens said, noting the difference in direction of the new ownership. “You can see what synergies you can find in collaboration with Anbang and its other European entities.”

Anbang provided considerable resources in helping Fidea build a digital platform and applications for direct customer engagement, making the insurer more competitive/

Due to low interest rates in Europe, many Belgian insurers have cut back on or even discontinued their life insurance offerings. Schellens said that the relaunch is not “beating against the current” but rather “actively filling the void” due to requests from its distributors.

Fidea renewed its distribution deal with leading Belgian bank Crelan for another 10 years. Banks are one of the strongest distribution channels for life insurance in the market.

The insurer will focus on pension products, aiming for US$215 million in life premium income for 2017, a huge jump from the US$65.28 million figure for last year. This will put Fidea’s life business on par with its non-life segment.

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