NORWAY – Scandinavian financial services group Nordea is integrating its life insurance and pensions businesses in Norway.
The new joint management for the group’s Norwegian insurance companies is currently drawing up a merger plan with the head of life insurance and pensions operations, which it will unveil by the end of January.

“ The proposal on how the integration is going to be done and how quickly it can be done, will be presented to the board of directors by the end of the month, confirms Ib Mardahl-Hansen, head of life insurance and pensions at Nordea.
“When the merger with Christiania Bank og Kreditkasse (CBK), owner of Norske Liv and K-Fondsforsikring, was completed, we already had two companies in Norway, Vesta Life and Vesta Link. We are trying very hard to integrate the companies, because we are almost dealing with the same products and expertise in Vesta and CBK’s subsidiaries.”

“We [Tryg-Baltica, the Danish insurance company, part of Unidanmark, now Nordea Companies_Denmark] bought Vesta group, a non-life company owning a life company in 1999 and we had to set up a new system, products and organisation with our own unit-link products, which has been going very well.”

Nordea concentrates on either life or non-life insurance in different Nordic countries. In Denmark and Norway the group has its own sales forces and business is mixed, but focuses mostly on the corporate side, Mardahl-Hansen says.
In Sweden and Finland, on the other hand, Nordea handles mainly retail insurance.

“We concentrate on selling through the retail banks, Merita and Nordbanken, which is mostly individual Unitlink and life business. I think the corporate market in Finland is out of our reach, there are those seven mutual companies dealing with pensions and our opportunities there are non-existent,” Mardahl-Hansen comments.
“Merita Life is already in the market and is actually the biggest life insurance company in the Nordea group, and in the Nordic region. A very successful company, Merita Life is owned by Merita Bank, and we have no immediate plans to change that.”

Mardahl-Hansen sees Sweden as a more positive growth area in institutional insurance. “In Sweden we are looking into expansion on the corporate side.
“ Business is very different from country to country, because legal and tax rules vary and the pension systems are very different from each other,” says Mardahl-Hansen.