Allianz, Dresdner to Share Facilities in Eastern Germany

MUNICH - Allianz Holding said it plans to take its cooperation pact with Dresdner Bank to the eastern part of Germany, where the two would use each other's distribution channels to market their products.

The joint activities in the former East Germany would presumably start this year, said Allianz's chief executive, Wolfgang Schieren. In Germany's west, the focus would be on the states of North Rhein-Westphalia, Hesse, Saarland, and Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Earlier, insurer Allianz confirmed that it had raised its stake in Dresdner, Germany's second-largest bank, to about 23% in the course of the past year.

"The accord will give us access to thousands of branches" of Dresdner, Mr. Schieren told reporters. "We are not only interested in good performance but also in doing things together."

Allianz is seeking cooperation only with companies that feature "similar products we do not have in our range of products or with branches we can use to sell our products through," Mr. Schieren said.

Allianz owns a 51% stake in insurer Deutsche Versicherungs, based in eastern Germany. Dresdner Bank has 130 branches in the east and plans to have 150 by yearend.

No Eyebrows Raised

"We are hoping for additional business, mainly in life insurance," he said, noting that the bank would benefit from the use of Allianz's distribution channels for the sale of mortgage products, for example.

Mr. Schieren said Allianz had reported its increased stake in Dresdner to relevant cartel authorities. "Our investment in Dresdner did not raise any eyebrow" in Brussels at the European Community's anticartel authority, he said.

Allianz already holds less than 10% in the Deutsche Bank, Germany's largest bank, while it also owns 10% of Munich-based Bayerische Vereinsbank. In addition, the Munich-based insurer owns some 24% in Bayerische Hypotheken-und Wechselbank.

"In Germany, our cooperation with banks has expanded particularly satisfactorily. The largest successes were achieved in the Bavarian region," Mr. Schieren said.

In Bavaria, cooperation deals with Bayern Hypo and with the cooperative banks resulted in considerable contributions to the life insurance business, he said.

"I emphasize that we do not want to have any influence [over Dresdner]. We are in the first place interested in securing the existing cooperation, in stabilizing it," he said.

"In addition, we consider the shares with their performance to be an interesting investment in the long term." Mr. Schieren declined to say how much Allianz paid for the stake.

He said a major part of the stake was being held by Allianz Lebensversicherings. Other Allianz units hold the remainder.

Mr. Schieren noted that the 23% stake also helped Dresdner protect itself against hostile takeover attempts.

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