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Allianz pays $750 mln for Sistema stake to control Rosno

Allianz SE, Europe's biggest insurer, gained control of Russian insurer Rosno after buying a stake held by OAO AFK Sistema for $750 mln in cash.

Together with its own stake of about 47.4%, Allianz now holds approximately 97% in Rosno, Munich-based Allianz said in an e-mailed statement today. Sistema will keep 3% of Rosno „to support the future development” of the company, Allianz said. Sistema said in a separate release that it sold 49.2% of Rosno to Allianz. Allianz „will become by far the most important foreign insurance company in our strategic market Russia,” Allianz management board member Werner Zedelius, who is responsible for growth markets, said in the statement. Allianz in 2001 agreed to buy a 45% stake in Rosno to prepare for an expected increase in demand for private insurance and mutual funds in Russia. Allianz, like other insurers, is expanding its business in Eastern Europe where growth rates exceed those of Western European markets. Rosno has more than 100 branches across Russia, servicing more than 7 million private and 50,000 corporate clients, according to information on its Web site. Rosno's gross premiums rose 35% to $591 million in the first nine months of 2006 from the same period a year earlier. Net income increased 12% to $22.1 million. (Bloomberg)