If there is a deep state in Europe, insurance giant Generali is part of it. Founded in Trieste in 1831 when it was the Mediterranean port of the Austrian Empire of the Habsburgs, Generali was a cross-border enterprise long before the integration of the European Union, spreading throughout Central Europe and Germany as well as the Italian Peninsula.
Now, having survived the wars of Italian and German unification in the 19th century and two continental wars in the 20th, Generali is the third-largest insurance group in Europe, after Germany’s Allianz and France’s Axa. It is in the midst of a radical restructuring to better survive the 21st century, and has Germany in its sights.
The Italian insurer last week announced it was renaming its various operations in Germany under the Generali brand. But that is only the most visible aspect of a streamlining that will trim operational costs and put new emphasis on internet marketing. “Customers never understand why we have so many brands in Germany,” explained Giovanni Liverani, head of the insurer’s German operations, in an interview.