RIYADH: MD RASOOLDEEN | Arab News staff
Published — Thursday 25 April 2013
Last update 26 April 2013 10:05 am
The Kingdom offers great opportunities to the insurance business in the region, says Henri de Castries, chairman and CEO of AXA Group.
De Castries was addressing a press conference at the French embassy in Riyadh.
French Ambassador Bertrand Besancenot was also present at the event.
The visit of de Castries comes amid AXA delivering robust financial results in 2012.
It recorded revenues worth Euro 90.1 billion and underlying earnings amounting to Euro 4.3 billion in 2012, and had Euro 1,116 billion assets under management.
In the past decades, AXA Group has built the one of the largest insurers worldwide and is the number one global insurance brand for the fourth consecutive year.
“The Saudi insurance market is experiencing the fastest growth in the GCC region now representing over 35 percent of total Gross Written Premium of the region due to a fast growing economy and population and a low-insurance penetration,” de Castries said.
“We aim to support the current business model here by leveraging AXA Group’s strengths and expertise,” he said.
“The insurance market in the Kingdom has a great future and we are committed to work with the regulatory bodies, partners and teams here, who have made this success possible,” de Castries said, adding that the Kingdom is a key market for AXA as it shows strong growth opportunities and increasing risk awareness of the population.
“Thus there are growing insurance needs to be addressed,” he said.
“During the year, AXA maintained its growth and profitability across the globe with a strong focus on delivering its strategic plan “Ambition AXA” by being more selective and by shifting its new business toward more profitable segments that address evolving customer needs. Also, AXA Group has shared its willingness to invest more in the high growth markets.”
Regionally, AXA also recorded strong financials with a growth of more than 20 percent of its premiums reaching $ 626 million.
AXA has become the leading non-life international insurer in the GCC over the last years, he said.
AXA which operates in the Kingdom under AXA Cooperative Insurance Company, has been in the country for over 30 years and has established a strong presence in the Kingdom’s three economic centers, he said.
AXA Cooperative has strong growth plans for the Kingdom, and notably in the retail side (motor, home and travel insurance) on top of the sustainable increase of the commercial lines business driven by the public investments.
“The company wants to become more available and enhance customer experience by implementing its multi-access strategy. It has recently announced its expansion strategy to open nine new outlets in the country this year on the top of the existing three shops. It also plans to continue to invest in distant channels such as call center and digital to ensure a seamless experience for all its customers.
He added: “Our objective here is to become the preferred insurance company for customers, distributors, employees and shareholders in Saudi Arabia and ensure that AXA Cooperative is fully aligned with the market needs.”
Dwelling on the growth of AXA Cooperative since its formation, Jerome Droesch, chairman of AXA Cooperative Insurance, said: “We have seen amazing growth in the last five years and notably since receiving our licence in the country in February 2010 reaching SR 460 million in 2012.”
Droesch said: “We have continued to relentlessly pursue efficiencies and product innovations to extend competitive advantage and value for policyholders in the evolving market environment. We are committed to growing in this country by engaging and capacity building of Saudi nationals in the insurance sector.”
AXA Cooperative, supported by AXA Group, also announced it plans to continue to grow in the Kingdom in the coming years.
In doing so,Droesch said, AXA will further enhance its footprint and aim to increase customer service levels in Saudi Arabia .