Allianz SE’s giant investment business saw managed assets grow to a record as clients added 18 billion euros ($20 billion) in the first quarter, reversing outflows at the end of last year.
The new money lifted the amount the company oversees for outside clients to 1.55 trillion euros, Munich-based Allianz said Tuesday. The insurer owns U.S. bond giant Pacific Investment Management Co. and Allianz Global Investors in Germany, making it one of the biggest investment companies globally. Including money overseen for Allianz’s insurance business, the firms now manage a combined 2.1 trillion euros, also a record.
Chief Executive Officer Oliver Baete, 54, has been seeking to revive growth at Europe’s largest insurer by exploring deals, including in asset management, and pushing into growth markets in Asia, where it trailed many of its European rivals. But large acquisitions have proven elusive, leaving Baete to pursue smaller transactions and returning excess cash to shareholders, including 1.5 billion euros that he’s earmarked for a new share buyback program this year.
“We are going to look at incremental deals,” Chief Financial Officer Giulio Terzariol said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “We can do bolt-on acquisitions in Europe and we can also go to other regions where we want to expand our footprint.”
Shares of Allianz rose 0.7% at 9:02 a.m. in Frankfurt trading, bringing gains this year to 13%.
Both operating profit, at 3 billion euros, and net income exceeded analysts’ estimates for the quarter, and Allianz confirmed a full-year target of 11.5 billion euros in operating profit.
Zurich Insurance Group AG said last week it’s on track to meet or exceed its targets this year as pricing trends improve and will continue to review deals following the acquisition of Australia & New Zealand Banking Group’s life insurance division. Zurich was one of the potential acquisition targets Allianz evaluated, Bloomberg reported last year, with other companies also being examined.
More highlights from Allianz’s first-quarter earnings: Net income rises 1.6% to 2 billion euros; analysts had estimated 1.87 billion euros Operating profit 3 billion euros, up 7% Non-life operating profit 1.46 billion euros, up 14% Life and health operating profit 1.1 billion euros, an increase of 2.5% Asset management operating profit 573 million euros, down 3.7%
The jump in managed assets was driven by market swings and 21 billion euros in inflows at Pimco, which continued to attract new money this quarter, Terzariol said. Pimco’s purchase of Gurtin Municipal Bond Management, a manager of $12 billion in muni bonds for high-net-worth clients, also added new money.
Allianz Global Investors suffered 3 billion euros of outflows. The firm, which has been seeking to attract new money by touting the benefits of active asset management, saw just 56 percent of third-party assets outperform benchmarks before fees over the past three years. At Pimco, that figure stood at 95 percent. Allianz didn’t give a number for performance net of fees.
Allianz had been looking at the feasibility of combining its asset management business with that of DWS Group, the asset manager owned by Deutsche Bank AG, people familiar with the matter said earlier this year. Deutsche Bank also held talks with other firms about the business, though discussions for now appear to have stalled.
Despite record assets, operating profit at the fund-management business fell because of higher investment in the unit. Allianz’s property and casualty division posted the strongest performance. Allianz said lower claims from natural catastrophes and higher premiums led to a 14 percent increase in the non-life division’s operating profit from a year earlier.
Allianz estimated it will pay out about 100 million euros ($112 million) of claims tied to mine disruptions at Vale SA and the crash of a Boeing 737 Max plane and the subsequent grounding of the aircraft. Terzariol said about half of that amount was related to the plane crash.
The German insurer is one of the companies that insured Boeing’s airline manufacturer liability policy. Settling claims from the two airplane crashes could cost $1 billion, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence estimate based on prior cases, but legal experts agree the payouts could be even higher. Boeing’s insurers expect to pay an additional sum for the worldwide grounding of the 737 Max planes.