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Italy: Fortis and BNP Paribas Assurance enter into a strategic partnership in non-life bancassurance with UBI Banca

  • 17.09.2009

- Acquisition of majority stake in UBI Assicurazioni, one of the leading non-life bancassurance players in Italy
- Long term exclusive distribution agreement with UBI Banca, a top 5 Italian bank

Fortis and BNP Paribas Assurance announce the acquisition of 50% + 1 share of UBI Assicurazioni, a market leader in property and casualty bancassurance in Italy. The transaction will be executed through a holding company (F&B Insurance Holdings), which will be held by Fortis (50% + 1 share) and BNP Paribas Assurance (50% -1 share). UBI Assicurazioni is currently 100% owned by UBI Banca. UBI Banca will keep 50% - 1 share. Fortis and BNP Paribas Assurance will pay a consideration of EUR 120 million in cash on completion. An additional consideration of approximately EUR 40 million will be payable to UBI Banca in cash, dependent upon the achievement of certain volume thresholds in the future.

Upon completion of the transaction, Fortis and BNP Paribas Assurance will build upon UBI Assicurazioni's capabilities to further develop and market non-life insurance products and services, such as car insurance, household insurance and non-life creditor insurance. The products will continue to be distributed essentially via the retail branch networks of UBI Banca, with which UBI Assicurazioni will enter into a long term exclusive distribution agreement.

UBI Assicurazioni is one of the leading non-life bancassurance players in Italy. In 2008, UBI Assicurazioni recorded gross written premiums of EUR 238 million. UBI Assicurazioni has 20 years experience in the Italian market where it distributes its products through the 2,000 branches of UBI Banca. UBI Banca is one of Italy's top five banks with four million customers, a market share of approximately 6% and a strong presence in the wealthiest areas of Italy. UBI Banca is a cooperative banking group listed on the Milan stock exchange.

The Italian non-life insurance market harbors considerable potential for bancassurance. Italy is Europe's fifth-largest non-life insurance market with total non-life GWP of EUR 38 billion in 2007 and has experienced steady annual growth in excess of 4% since 2000. In 2007, only 1.8% of non-life gross written premiums were sold through the banking channel. However, bancassurance in Italy is expected to catch up with other European countries and therefore offers excellent growth opportunities.

This transaction will enable Fortis to use its non-life bancassurance expertise to further develop opportunities to cross sell insurance products to banking customers and enhance the product mix of the P&C portfolio. The transaction will also enable Fortis to establish itself rapidly in the Italian market, and to jointly assess with BNP Paribas Assurance new growth opportunities.

This operation provides BNP Paribas Assurance with an opportunity to accelerate the growth of its non-life insurance business in Italy, where it has a strong expertise in relation to creditor insurance through its subsidiary Cardif.

Commenting on the acquisition of Ubi Assicurazioni, Bart De Smet, Chief Executive Officer of Fortis said: “This transaction is a great opportunity for Fortis to play its strengths: bancassurance, non-life insurance expertise and long-term partnerships. We are looking forward to teaming up with BNP Paribas Assurance, with whom we have established an excellent relationship, to generate strong and profitable growth in this new strategic partnership with UBI Banca, and with a view to exploring other opportunities in the future.”

Eric Lombard, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BNP Paribas Assurance added: “This transaction constitutes a new step forward for BNP Paribas Assurance in Italy. It is perfectly in line with our strategy, which calls for an expansion of our product and service portfolio, particularly in Property and Casualty insurance, to better address the expectations of our partners. This operation is the first tangible initiative within the framework of the strategic partnership in insurance between Fortis and the BNP Paribas group. I have every confidence that it will prove a strong success.”

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals from relevant competition authorities and regulators. Transaction closing is expected to take place before the end of 2009.

About BNP Paribas Assurance
BNP Paribas Assurance ( is the Life and Property & Casualty insurance arm of BNP Paribas. It develops and markets products and services under two commercial brands. Products distributed through the BNP Paribas retail branch network in France are branded BNP Paribas. Those distributed by other channels in France and in international markets are branded Cardif.
BNP Paribas Assurance is the world leader in creditor insurance and the fourth-largest life insurance company in France. Its life and non-life insurance units have received an AA rating from Standard & Poor's.
BNP Paribas Assurance is actively committed to exemplary Corporate Social Responsibility. It has adopted a Socially Responsible Investment program, encourages diversity throughout the enterprise (earning the "Equality at Work" label in France) and supports local economic development in the markets where it operates. BNP Paribas Assurance is equally committed to environmental responsibility, targeting a 10-percent reduction in the company's carbon emissions by 2010. It had gross written premiums of 16.1 billion euros in 2008. With operations in 41 countries, BNP Paribas Assurance generated 42% of its 2008 gross written premiums outside the BNP Paribas group and 37% of gross written premiums outside France. It counts 8,000 employees, 70% of them outside France.

About Fortis
Fortis holding (Fortis SA/NV and Fortis N.V.) comprises (1) 75% ownership of AG Insurance; (2) Fortis Insurance International; (3) a 45% interest in Royal Park Investments (a structured credit portfolio entity); and (4) financial assets and liabilities of various financing vehicles.
AG Insurance is overall market leader and a leading player in the Employee Benefits market.
The international insurance activities (Fortis Insurance International) are located in the UK (where Fortis is the third largest institution in the market for private car insurance), France, Hong Kong, Luxembourg (Non-Life), Germany, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine, and – through joint ventures – in Luxembourg (Life), Portugal (where Millenniumbcp Fortis is the clear market leader) China, Malaysia, India and Thailand.
Gross premium inflow at AG Insurance and Fortis Insurance International (consolidated businesses) stood at EUR 11.63 billion in 2008; 54% of revenues were generated in Belgium and 46% internationally.
Fortis currently employs over 10,000 people, 44% of them in Belgium.
Fortis Foundations pursue a combination of philanthropy and voluntary work with the aim of contributing substantively to the local communities in which Fortis operates. Fortis Foundations are active in Luxembourg, France, Poland and Turkey. Some 270 projects were assisted in 2008 for a total sum of EUR 1,945,129.
Press contact(s)

BNP Paribas Assurance
Sophie Le Blévec Tel. (33) 1 41 42 69 56 sophie.s.leblevec [at] bnpparibas (dot) com
Caroline Chaize Tel. : (33) 1 41 42 89 31 caroline.chaize [at] bnpparibas (dot) com
Laurence Pessez Tel. : (33) 1 41 42 25 60 laurence.pessez [at] bnpparibas (dot) com

Cardif Assicurazioni S.p.A
Cristina Santinoli Tel. (39) 0277 22 41
cristina.santinoli [at] cardif (dot) com
Federico Vercellino tel: (39) 0272 02 35 35
f.vercellino [at] barabino (dot) it

Fortis (Press)
Brussels: +32 (0)2 565 22 66
Utrecht: +31 (0)30 226 32 61

Fortis (Investor Relations)
Brussels: +32 (0)2 565 53 78
Utrecht: +31 (0)30 226 65 66