Ljubljana, 1 March (STA) – Chairman of insurance company Zavarovalnica Triglav Matjaž Rakovec told Friday’s edition of the business daily Finance that the insurer was looking to buy Croatian insurance company Croatia Osiguranje.

“The biggest Croatian insurer Croatia Osiguranje is due to go on sale. We are considering to go for the purchase,” Rakovec said.

Rakovec stressed Zavarovalnica Triglav wanted to increase its presence on the “extremely interesting” Croatian market. “Considering we’ve established (subsidiary) Triglav INT and have shareholding agreement with the IFC, our financial structure enables us to participate in the takeover.”

Serbia’s third-largest insurer DDOR has also been up for sale for quite some time. “By purchasing both we could consolidate the insurance market in countries covered by Triglav Group. We would become stronger and our market share would reach about 35% in the Adria Region,” he said.

But to achieve this, Zavarovalnica Triglav must increase its capital. “Croatia Osiguranje collected about EUR 400m in premiums, and the price would hover at around 70% to 80% percent of gross premiums, perhaps even lower. This means about EUR 300m for Croatia Osiguranje.

“Together with DDOR the amount would total about EUR 400m, for which the current capital structure of Zavarovalnica Triglav is insufficient. The problem is whether Triglav will be privatised,” Rakovec said.

The Slovenian government will have to think about selling what is now called the state silverware. “For me it is the most important that we find a strategic partner that will enable Triglav’s continuous growth. The price is not as important as is their support.”

According to Rakovec, there is generally a large demand for Zavarovalnica Triglav. “Everybody is of course interested in an ownership stake higher than 50%. They don’t care if the state keeps 25% plus one share, although personally I think (state ownership) is not necessary at all. There is quite some interest from large insurers as well as funds.”

With regards to bank Abanka Vipa, which has recently seen another failed recapitalisation, Rakovec said the bank was not Triglav’s strategic investment, so the company was interested in selling its stake there. “Of course the price is up to negotiations,” he added.

He is confident somebody will be willing to purchase the bank. “With EUR 90m of recapitalisation and if the price will really be set at one euro per share, they can become the 90% owner.”

He added that Triglav would in principle take part only in the amount proportionate to the share it holds currently, and only under the condition that none of the state-affiliated owners took part and that the total stake shareholding did not increase.