Foreword by the Chairman of the Supervisory Board

Dear shareholders, customers and business partners,

Christian Konrad, Chairman of the Supervisory Board (photo)

Christian Konrad
Chairman of the Supervisory Board

The financial year 2009 was overshadowed by a drastic global economic downturn. As expected, the economic environment worsened noticeably over the course of the previous year. Central banks and governments took extraordinary measures to stimulate the economy and financial markets – to an extent that we have never seen before. The stabilisation thus achieved was bought at the cost of massive increases in national debt, both in Europe and the USA. This is one of the reasons why it is too early to talk of an end to the crisis. For many countries the path back to normalisation will be long and painful.

In this environment, UNIQA also faced many challenges during the previous year. A positive note should be made of the fact that UNIQA managed to prevent slumps in the operative areas – and to even achieve growth in the often criticised nations in Central and Eastern Europe. As a matter of fact, it was these nations which in many ways showed us how to handle difficult situations in a responsible and pragmatic manner. However, in Austria as well, UNIQA was able to further develop its market position and exceed the market once again.

These positive developments are in contrast to the reduced Group results of €82 million. Even if this is partially the result of extreme storm damage, this explanation is not entirely satisfactory to us.

Particularly in this economically difficult environment, investment results will always be highly volatile – and characterised by low interest rates in the foreseeable future. This means that cost efficiency and insurance profitability will have to remain our focus, whether we achieve this by utilising cost advantages within the company or through targeted, risk-oriented pricing and avoiding bad risks – if necessary at the expense of turnover and growth.

Placing a specific focus on the management of company risks is not only of central importance from the perspective of company results, but particularly with regard to the planned amendments to the solvency provisions within the Solvency II Project. The expected, notably increased dependency of risk-weighted capital requirements on capital investment risks will place new challenges on risk management in general and on capital investment risk management in particular.

The development of the year 2009 showed that we have a sustainable business model. For this reason, we will continue to focus on our activities in Central and Eastern Europe. The stable markets in Western Europe, combined with the growth markets in Central and Eastern Europe, provide an excellent basis to this end. Expanding our business activities in Central and Eastern Europe does not necessarily mean making additional purchases or entering new markets. UNIQA has proven over the last years that it is also possible to generate market share gains by focussing on organic growth. We will nevertheless continue to keep our eyes open for emerging and economically sensible growth opportunities.

I would like to thank all employees, as well as our business partners, for their commitment and their immense personal contribution towards mastering a challenging 2009.

Vienna, April 2010

Christian Konrad