EUROPE – Insurance giant Allianz has attributed continued strong demand for its pension and asset management products for a double-digit increase in earnings during 2005.

At its annual news conference this morning, Allianz said pre-tax profit rose 13.2% in 2005 to reach €7.7bn. Group sales were up 4.2% to surpass the €100bn mark for the first time ever.

“The key driver of growth globally was again demand for our pension and asset management products,” said chief executive Michael Diekmann. “We are currently simplifying our business structure in Europe so that we can continue to grow profitably.”

Chief financial officer Helmut Perlet added: “We will grow all our businesses, particularly pensions, which is a dynamic market. Our life insurance and asset management businesses will benefit from the fact that more and more people are saving for retirement.”

Last year, Allianz released a study that found Europe’s market for occupational and private pensions would double to €16.4trn in 2015 from €7.4trn currently. The study said that of the estimated €9trn in new pension assets, no less than 80% would be concentrated in France, Germany and Italy.

Meanwhile, Allianz said net inflows to Allianz Global Investors, its asset management arm, were a record €64bn in 2005, bringing third-party assets under management to €743bn.

Allianz noted that the inflows “were especially high from institutional investors in the US and Germany”. The US market alone accounts for 73% of AGI’s third-party assets under management.

The asset management arm includes dit and dbi of Germany, PIMCO, RCM, Nicholas Applegate, NFJ, Oppenheimer Capital and Allianz Hedge Fund Partners.

Separately, Allianz said it plans to transform into a European-listed company (Societas Europaea) from a German one (Aktiengesellschaft). The move, which will lower the influence of employee representatives on Allianz’s board, follows the acquisition of Italian insurer RAS for €5.9bn.

Allianz said Italy was the most important insurance market for it after Germany.