Economic outlook

We do not expect to see a prolonged process of economic contraction. GDP in Europe should grow once again by around 1.2 per cent as early as 2024 and in the USA by as much as 1.6 per cent thanks to strong demand. Growth of about 1 per cent is expected in Austria.

Due to the inflation trend, the market strongly expects the first interest rate cuts before mid-2024. Although second-round effects from the sharp wage increases could push prices up again, this effect should be largely offset by the weak economy in China. Significant price reductions on Chinese export goods are generally expected, which should create sufficient room for manoeuvre for interest rate cuts. This means that the end of high inflation is largely in sight: in 2024, the inflation rate in the USA and the eurozone should fall below 2 per cent at times, while the annual average in Austria should be around 3.5 per cent in 2024 according to the IMF. Prices in Eastern Europe are also expected to rise by a maximum of 5 to 6 per cent.

Elections in 2024 will be a particularly interesting topic. Although elections will be held in many states and regions this year, the race for the US presidency will clearly be the centre of attention. This election will set the course for global politics for a long time to come and could therefore also have an impact on economic policy.

Business outlook

For the 2024 financial year, the last year of our “UNIQA 3.0 – Seeding the Future” strategic programme, we are concentrating on further improving our core insurance business in our two home markets of Austria and CEE.

Expectations of strong growth in property and health insurance are based on both targeted sales activities and adjustments in connection with inflation and index developments.

However, we again expect pressure on earnings in the 2024 financial year due to rising expenses for insurance benefits (particularly in the areas of property and health insurance) and in the area of costs (primarily due to inflation). It is therefore crucial to maintain strict cost discipline and continuously optimise cost management.

Based on a solvency ratio of at least 170 per cent, we strive to allow our shareholders to participate progressively in the success of our company, i.e. with annually increasing dividend payments. The payout ratio will remain unchanged at up to 60 per cent.

These forecasts are subject to possible negative influences on our consolidated profit, which may result from geopolitical upheavals and the associated uncertainties for the global capital markets, from a volatile interest rate environment, from the general inflation trend and, above all, from increased claims payments as a result of natural catastrophes. In connection with this, we expect our target profitability to be at the level of 2023.