Insurer ASR posted three percent more operating profit than a year earlier. This despite the difficult market conditions and the uncertainties due to the geopolitical tensions in the world. CEO Jos Baeten of ASR is therefore cautiously optimistic about the future: ‘The company is doing well and we are in good shape.’
Despite the increased operating profit, ASR’s net profit fell. According to Baeten, this has two causes. ‘Last year’s investment results were worse compared to the previous year, it was not a good year for investors. And we had to take out more than ninety million in provisions because the government raised the minimum wages by ten percent,’ explains the CEO.
In addition, ASR says it has also suffered from the increased inflation. A profit of three percent does not seem like much, but it is still a nice profit. Showing growth in these times is also a good thing,’ says Baeten. Wage costs also rose at the insurer and the costs in the event of damage rose. ‘We have not calculated that in all cases in our premiums.’
ASR announced in October last year that it is taking over the Dutch branch of Aegon. According to Baeten, the takeover is not yet complete, but the process is progressing according to plan. ‘We need a lot of permits before you can do the so-called closing. We are currently in the process of applying for the permits and I think that all those processes will be completed around July 1’, says Baeten. ‘Then the real work begins, namely bringing them together.’
The eventual merger of Aegon’s Dutch branch with ASR will reduce the total costs by 185 million euros compared to the sum of the two stand-alone companies. According to Baeten, the merger also ensures that the insurer can maintain a strong balance sheet in the future. ‘That’s good for customers, colleagues and shareholders.’
The CEO therefore looks to the future with a cautiously positive eye. ‘In general, rising interest rates are good for an insurer, including us. But the geopolitical tensions in the world do worry me. Still, this is the fifteenth year in a row that we have shown healthy results, so I think the company is doing well’, says Baeten.