Банкеръ Weekly



The pension company Berlinische Leben is quitting the Bulgarian insurance market. The decision was officially announced at the beginning of this week by the owners of the Bulgarian-German company. Its representatives said the decision was prompted by the fact that the policy of the British financial group CGNU, to which Belinische Leben belongs, is to concentrate its efforts on gaining a leading position on markets offering high returns on capital investments. According to CGNU, the Bulgarian company within the international financial group has failed to satisfy these requirements.
The German Berlinische Leben registered an eponymous company in Bulgaria more than a year ago. In May 2000 the company's managers officially announced their investment intentions for the Bulgarian financial markets, and bought a posh office. On September 21, 2000 the Bulgarian-German company was licensed to carry on pension insurance activities in this country.
Currently, some 10,000 people are paying their pension insurance installments into Berlinische Leben. About 4,000 of them are members of the professional fund, and some 6,000 - of the universal fund. What is interesting in this case is that most of the professional fund's 4,000 members are not insured in the Bulgarian-German company by their own will, but have been formally apportioned to it. In compliance with legal stipulations, Berlinische Leben will now transfer its portfolios of insured people to some of the other licensed funds. Several pension insurance companies have already shown interest towards the packages, but well-informed sources say that representatives of Berlinische Leben have already held preliminary talks with ING Pension Insurance Company and with Alianz-Bulgaria. The insured people, who have really paid their installments and are not willing to be formally apportioned to another company will get their money back and can afterwards choose another insurer. The financial sector is interested in some of Berlinische Leben's employees, the BANKER weekly learned. Concrete talks on that matter have already been held.
In addition to pension insurance, Berlinische Leben wanted to engage in general insurance business in Bulgaria, but was never licensed due to multiple beaurocratice hindrances of various character. According to pundits, however, the Bulgarian-German company was going to get such a licence within a month, but Berlinische Leben's managers lost their patience before that.
They have already notified the State Insurance and Gambling Supervision Agency they are leaving the local financial market, which means they are also dropping their intention to carry on insurance activities in Bulgaria. On top of all, the Bulgarian-German company will have to pay a fee to the supervising body, whose officials have considered the company's application documents for the insurance licence.
The beautiful building on the Oborishte street, where the company was planning to work, will obviously remain Berlinische Leben's single investment in Bulgaria. According to its representatives, the building will not be put up for sale, at least for the time being, and will be let out. Insiders say they do not rule out the possibility of returning to Bulgaria in a better conjuncture.

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