GERMANY – Allianz Leben says its company pensions business is booming, with growth coming from instant pensions and the “breath-taking” development of its Pensionskasse pension fund. But it sees challenges for pension provision ahead.

Allianz Lebensversicherungs AG, the life arm of German insurer Allianz, said in a statement that it saw new business rise 30.3% to 2.03 billion euros in the first ten months of 2002. It said this compares to market growth of 9.1% in the same period.

One of the main engines of new business growth was its “SofortRente” instant pensions based on single-payment premiums.

It said it signed more than 5,000 contracts with companies for the Pensionskasse alone – compared to 2,000 at the end of the first half. Over 8,000 employers either set up a company pension scheme from scratch or expanded an existing pension scheme with new options during the first 10 months of the year.

“There has been a breath-taking development for the Pensionskasse, although traditional direct insurance with its proven track record continued to be the most popular means of pension provision,” it said. It added that it now has business relationships with 75% of the companies on Germany’s benchmark DAX index.

Board chairman Gerhard Rupprecht said: “We have succeeded in pushing up our market share from 14.4% percent to 17.4% – consumers are obviously putting their money on financial strength and quality.”

The Allianz Dresdner Pension Fund, which was approved in May 2002, has some ground to make up, Allianz said. “The acid test for this new means of pension provision in Germany lies ahead, in the year 2003,” said Michael Hessling, board member for corporate business.

But it was disappointed by its so-called Riester business, pension products named after labour minister Walter Riester. It concluded around 535,000 Riester contracts by the end of November up from more than 300,000 at the end of 2001 - giving it a 20% market share.

“Riester business has disappointed our expectations and those of the market,” said Eckhard Huetter, board member responsible for actuarial calculations.

As for its relationship with MetallRente, the pension fund for metal workers, of which it is consortium leader, it said that more than 1,300 companies have concluded framework contracts with the fund. This compares to 450 companies as at the end of 2001.