Leadership Transition

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Allianz, Fighting Earnings Slowdown, Telegraphs Exit of CEO Dieckmann

Michael Diekmann
It's been difficult to find a successor for Michael Diekmann, chief executive of Allianz.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    At Allianz, the future of its longtime CEO, Michael Diekmann, and six other board members remains open amid a slowdown in earnings at Germany’s largest insurer.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Allianz reported an increase in first-half income, but business remained weak in the United States.
    • Low global interest rates have made it difficult for insurers by paring their returns on invested premiums.
    • Mr. Diekmann’s contract, and those of six other Allianz board members, are up for renewal in December.
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    Audio

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Michael Diekmann, the chief executive at Allianz, has been running Germany’s largest insurer since 2003.  His current contract is up for renewal at the end of this year and there are two possible successors. Some observers say neither is ready to take over yet.

On Friday, Allianz’ first-half financial results were well received by the market, but some analysts and investors were less happy about the firm’s refusal to confirm whether Mr. Diekmann, its longtime chief executive, would remain at the helm.

The insurer last week offered no details about a potential succession at the top.

In remarks to analysts, Mr. Diekmann said the Allianz supervisory board would decide on the leadership question in October. German businesses have non-executive supervisory boards which hire and fire chief executives and confirm strategic decisions made by the management board.

But investors preferred well-telegraphed and publicized transitions in top management. Allianz’ silence on Mr. Diekmann’s future has come under scrutiny.

“The supervisory board is ducking out of its responsibilities by postponing the decision,” said Manuel René Thiesen, a professor of corporate governance based in Munich. “The supervisory board is just signing things off, and has power only on paper.”

Mr. Thiesen described the delay as unprofessional and called it a slap in the face both for German corporation law and good corporate governance.

Allianz sales rose 7.8 percent in the first half year compared with the same period last year. For the second quarter, the insurer’s revenue rose 10 percent to €29.5 billion ($39.4 billion) compared to the same period in 2013. Allianz’ net income grew by 10.9 percent to €1.9 billion over the same period in 2013.

Operating profit grew by 17.1 percent to €2,771 million, mainly due to growth of its life and health insurance business. Allianz property and casualty business also benefitted from fewer payments for natural catastrophes during the period.

Allianz suffered lower operating revenues in its Asset Management department, which fell from €209 million to €161 million, and operating profit fell 16 percent.

Pimco, Allianz’s U.S. fund subsidiary, remained a source of concern as investors have been withdrawing from the flagship Total Return fund. But Pimco continues to make profits, although these are sinking, and Mr. Diekmann reaffirmed his support for the unit.

 

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