Allianz keen to list on Shanghai's foreign board
German insurer among number of overseas firms keen to boost presence on the mainland
Global insurer Allianz is among the large number of foreign companies that are lining up to list on Shanghai's proposed international board.
Other companies that have indicated an interest in obtaining a listing on the new board include HSBC, Bank of East Asia, Coca-Cola and the New York Stock Exchange.
After several years in the planning stage, Shanghai is likely to launch the new board next year, a move that will put it in direct competition with the Hong Kong stock exchange, which is also targeting listings by international firms.
"A listing in Shanghai will show our commitment to mainland China," said Michael Diekmann, the chairman of Allianz.
Diekmann also said Allianz, which is listed in Frankfurt, would not pursue a listing in Hong Kong to avoid being listed on too many markets.
Louis Tse Ming-kwong, a director of VC Brokerage, said it came as no surprise that Allianz chose to list in Shanghai instead of Hong Kong, as the insurer had a bigger profile on the mainland, where it operates a joint-venture asset management firm and a joint-venture life insurance firm, and a wholly owned general insurer.
In Hong Kong, Allianz is established as a leading asset management company and a general insurance provider for infrastructure projects such as the airport and railways.
"For big international financial firms like Allianz, a listing in Shanghai would allow access to the mainland market which is much bigger than Hong Kong's," Tse said. "If Allianz is among the first batch of international firms to list there, it would be a very good brand-building exercise, not only in the mainland but also globally."
Allianz is the world's second-largest asset management company after BlackRock, the largest general insurance company worldwide, and the world's third-largest life insurer.
Half of its operating profit comes from general insurance, and the rest is contributed equally by asset management and life insurance.
Geographically, about half of its operating profit is generated in Europe, 25 per cent in the United States and the remaining 25 per cent from growth areas such as China, Asia, Middle East and Latin America.
Third-quarter results released this month showed the company's revenue rose 4.7 per cent from a year earlier to €25.2 billion (HK$255.6 billion), while its operating profit grew 32.8 per cent to €2.5 billion. It expects full-year operating profit to exceed €9 billion.
Diekmann said mainland China represented an important, but challenging market.
"Mainland financial firms are learning very fast. In the past 20 years, they have caught up very quickly, and they are very big. We want to grow our business in China but instead of setting our benchmark against the domestic players, our goal is to be a leading international insurer here."