Group News

“We want to grow profitably in Colombia”

Interview with Torsten Leue, member of the Board of Management of Talanx AG and Chief Executive Officer of Talanx International AG, on the acquisition of two companies in Colombia.


Mr Leue, Talanx is acquiring Generali Colombia Seguros Generales S.A. and its subsidiary Generali Colombia Vida Compañia de Seguros S.A. What is so interesting about Colombia for the Talanx Group?

Colombia is the fifth-largest market in Latin America and has a young population which is becoming increasingly affluent. Normally, as household incomes rise, so does the need for insurance protection. To this extent it is a favourably evolving market that we now want to tap into. In so doing, we are building on the good local management already in place, while at the same time drawing on the experience that we have gathered in Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay and Peru.

How does this fit into the strategy?

For Talanx, the acquisition of Generali Colombia in the Retail International Division is a strategic move. It means a further strengthening of our presence in the target region. The companies are well positioned and have strong management, which will contribute to the further growth and success of the Talanx Group. I am very much looking forward to working together with all the members of staff. We are focusing our growth efforts on the two target regions of Latin America as well as Central and Eastern Europe. In each case we have defined core markets, namely Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Turkey and Poland. We aim to rank among the five largest insurers in these markets. Colombia complements our involvement in Latin America. Here, too, needless to say, we want to grow profitably.

What is the economic significance of the acquisition?

In the first place, we are pleased to add annual premium income of around EUR 59 million combined with a positive profit contribution (EBIT). This is something that we intend to build on. We shall cultivate the market under our HDI brand and are very optimistic that we will see a highly favourable development in Colombia over the short, medium and long term.

For more information on the Talanx Group acquisition please see:
Acquisition in Colombia strengthens Talanx’s Latin American business

Colombia: a country portrait

Talanx is strengthening its Latin American business by acquiring Generali Colombia Seguros Generales S.A. and its subsidiary Generali Colombia Vida Compañia de Seguros S.A. The Group is thus entering the Colombian insurance market and expanding its successful and focused presence in the strategic target region of Latin America.

Far removed from the big cities and sprawling urban centres of Colombia, an extraordinary and fascinating natural spectacle remains hidden away in the Serranía de La Macarena National Park. The river Caño Cristales – also known as the "River of Five Colours" or the "Liquid Rainbow" – is transformed in the second half of the year into an enchanting display of colour. A particular endemic plant species on the river bed causes the river to appear in a brilliant palette of red, green, yellow, blue and violet under sunlight.

Located deep into Colombia's pristine mountain landscape, few tourists have hitherto come to marvel at this unique play of colours. This is because the Caño Cristales is in a region until recently held by Colombia's FARC rebels. Not long ago, however, the rebels entered into peace talks with President Juan Manuel Santos. Since then the country, which for years had been overshadowed by crime, civil war and the terror tactics adopted by drug gangs, has been looking to make a fresh start. Significantly stronger economic growth rates than those of neighbouring economies can help what was once the "El Dorado" of gold mining to enjoy a new boom. Today, commodities such as oil and petroleum products account for more than 40 percent of exports, along with coal, coke and briquettes at 13 percent and coffee, tea, cocoa and spices at over 6 percent; emeralds, cut flowers and bananas rank among the other major export goods. After the Netherlands, Colombia is actually the world's second-largest supplier of cut flowers. Germany is Colombia's most important trading partner within the EU. In recent years the economy has expanded by as much as four, five and even seven percent. The value of exports has more than quadrupled since the year 2000, while international investments have grown more than five-fold. It would seem that the new Colombia is succeeding in breaking free of the cycle of poverty and violence.

Situated on the Equator, this country of some 48.7 million people is the third-most populous and fifth-largest in Latin America. More than 80 percent of the population is under the age of 65, giving the country a corresponding sense of dynamism. Over 90 percent of the population now has access to clean water and more than 80 percent to proper hygiene facilities. Unemployment has been cut since 2000 from 20 percent of the potential working population aged between 15 and 64 to barely 10 percent. When it comes to education, too, Colombia is making progress: there is now one teacher for every 24 school pupils. Today, 100 percent of children complete their primary school education. A good platform has thus been established for the country to continue its promising development.

Colombia is also a land of contrasts. An area a good three times as large as Germany encompasses five different natural and cultural environments. From the expansive Caribbean beaches and the Pacific coastline, savannas and rainforests to the snow- and ice-covered mountains of the Andes with peaks in excess of 5,000 metres, Colombia spans a broad climatic spectrum. This makes it one of the most species-rich countries in the world, with a dazzling diversity of flora and fauna. Large expanses of the country are still virtually untouched. 90% of the population is divided between the Andes regions and the Caribbean coast, which take up less than half of the total land area. The capital city, Bogotá, which is also located in the Andes, is home to one sixth of the country's inhabitants.

Facts about Colombia

  • Largest source of emeralds in the world.
  • Measuring altogether 300 km in length, the network of cycle paths in Colombia's capital Bogotá is the longest in South America.
  • The only South American country to have a Pacific and a Caribbean coast.Colombia is part of the "Ring of Fire", a group of countries bordering the Pacific that are particularly vulnerable to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
  • Medellin, Colombia's second-largest city, was the murder capital of the world in 1991 with 17 homicides per day – but it has since changed for the better. Medellin did not feature in the 2015 list of the world's most dangerous places.
  • The Colombian government bans alcohol at large national events in an effort to prevent violence.
  • Second-largest exporter of cut flowers after the Netherlands.