“Allianz is a cool company,” its chief executive Oliver Bäte said recently in an interview with a blogger.
It’s not the first adjective that springs to mind when describing the venerable insurance giant. But the remark testifies to Mr. Bäte’s ambition to reinvigorate the 126-year-old firm. “Oli,” as he is known to his colleagues, is breaking with cherished tradition to ready Allianz for the future, and speed is of the essence.
As Mr. Bäte (pronounced BAY-tuh) put it at the annual news conference in February, a “perfect storm” is brewing, generated by low interest rates, financial market turmoil, international crises, tighter regulations and new digital competitors.
But he’s also been striking an upbeat tone, saying Allianz can weather the conditions.
To be sure, it did so last year, delivering strong results in property and casualty insurance, life and health insurance and asset management. Total revenues rose 2.4 percent to a record €125.2 billion, or $144.2 billion — in its 125th year of existence.
“That was a pure coincidence, we didn’t do any tricks, it came out of the machine like that,” Mr. Bäte, 51, said.
Results for the first quarter, which Allianz presented on Monday, were also upbeat. Net profit rose to €2.2 billion from €1.8 billion a year earlier, up 21 percent.
Much has changed since Allianz was founded in 1890. The insurer has morphed from a German life insurance company into a global financial conglomerate with 142,000 employees in more than 70 countries.
Allianz now generates three quarters of revenue and earnings outside Germany.