Letter to shareholders on the 2021 Half-Year Results.
At CHF 302.3 million, the profit attributable to our shareholders for the first half of 2021 was up by more than 70 per cent on the first six months of 2020, which had been heavily affected by pandemic-related claims payouts and by turmoil in the capital markets. Baloise can thus look back on a successful half-year period. And faced with a surge of storm-related claims across Europe since the beginning of July, Baloise is now once more proving to be a reliable partner and paying out millions to its policyholders. In the non-life business, Baloise achieved very good growth in all markets and, despite the severe storms experienced in June in Switzerland, a solid combined ratio (net) of 92.3 per cent. Non-life business also grew at a healthy rate. Profit before borrowing costs and taxes was up by around 48 per cent year on year to CHF 194.6 million, an excellent result that was mainly attributable to the recovery in the capital markets and the improved interest-rate situation. The asset management and banking business delivered its solid profit contribution once again and achieved encouraging growth in external customers’ assets. As a result, Baloise is in stable shape and in a strong operational position following the pandemic-hit prior-year period.
Baloise will continue to grow as an independent European insurance group. Our business in Switzerland is already strong, and in Belgium we have steadily increased our market share in recent years. And thanks to the successful adjustment to the business mix in Germany, we can now expect to ramp up growth in this market once again too. Finally, Baloise in Luxembourg is delivering solid growth figures in its cross-border business.
However, we are also planning to grow outside our existing markets, through our innovation initiatives. In spring, for example, Baloise invested in the Danish peer-to-peer carsharing company GoMore, an established provider of mobility services in the car sharing and leasing sector in several European markets. The investment has not only expanded our Mobility ecosystem, but is now accelerating GoMore’s planned expansion into further European countries. A similar goal is behind the launch of FRIDAY in the French market with a multi-risk home contents insurance product. FRIDAY is thus forging ahead with the creation of a multi-country platform and its pursuit of further growth. At the beginning of July, in the Home ecosystem, we announced our intention to enter into a strategic partnership with UBS, with the aim of giving customers in Switzerland access to complementary services that address property owners’ needs regarding financing, insurance and maintenance.
Having reached these milestones in the first half of the year, we are already turning our attention to 2022 as the first phase of the Simply Safe strategy nears its end. The start of “Simply Safe: Season 2”, the second phase of the strategy, will see us looking to focus even more heavily on the two ecosystems of Home and Mobility. This will quite literally bring us closer to our customers.
«The Baloise model of value creation serves to increase enterprise value over the long term and is an integral part of the strategy.»
Key components of this are the ongoing digitalisation of our business model, the strengthening of the traditional insurance business, and a relentless focus on the simplification of our core business lines for customers and partners. And asset management also plays a central role. Thanks to our ambitious targets and clear sustainability strategy, we are well on track to achieve further growth in our business with external customers. For example, we are planning to expand the successful Baloise Swiss Property Funds by purchasing other property portfolios. Sustainability is another integral component of “Simply Safe: Season 2”. The Baloise model of value creation serves to increase enterprise value over the long term for the benefit of shareholders. By utilising the resources available to us to create value, we can continue to generate success with our business model. Going forward, we will therefore be putting greater emphasis on the sustainability strategy and continually striving to act more sustainably.
Despite a challenging year in 2020 due to the pandemic, Baloise is in good shape for the next phase of our strategy. In June, the rating agency Standard & Poor’s confirmed its rating for the Baloise Group’s core companies of “A+” with a stable outlook. It awarded this rating in recognition of Baloise’s very strong capitalisation, its excellent operational profitability, its robust risk management and its solid competitive position in its profitable core markets. The rating of the German business Basler Sachversicherungs-AG was upgraded from “A” (with a positive outlook) to “A+” (with a stable outlook) because of sustained improvements in its profitability.
Baloise is confident that the goals of Season 1 of the Simply Safe strategy will be achieved by the end of the year. At the same time, we are laying the foundation for a successful start to the next phase of the strategy. We will enter this phase full of optimism thanks to the strength of our corporate culture and secure in the knowledge that our strategy is focused on the long term.