The Years of the Lion (1951 - 1960)


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Assicurazioni Generali: a Journey that started in 1831 (1951 - 2007).

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The Years of the Lion (1951 - 1960)

  1. 1. The Years of the Lion decades 1951-2007
  2. 2. 1951-1960 The recovery T hanks to reconstruction efforts of the previous erations in the new and dynamic economies five-year period, Generali entered the Fifties in a of Latin America and Australia, as well as in the position of regained normality. The picture was world’s largest market: the USA, where the New aptly outlined in an annual report published in York Branch was reopened following the ac- that period: “The Company, whose prestige has quisition of Buffalo Insurance Company. In the remained unscathed in the tumultuous events mid-Fifties, the Generali Group had operations in some sixty countries on five continents and was a leading player in key European markets (France, Spain, Austria and Germany), where it had been present for several decades. This was a literally unprecedented territorial expansion. No doubt, growth was favoured by the positive international and domestic economic climate. In most markets, economic recovery was solid, thanks also to the massive reconstruction un- derway – especially in those countries where the war had been most destructive. The Italian economy, buoyed by the overall positive out- look, was solidly sustained by exports, A tradition rekindled. Started in the Thirties, the ritual of feeding pigeons in Piazza San Marco was again put into which – thanks to the healthy bal- practice in 1953. of the past years, has been able to extend opera- tions to new important markets while consoli- dating its presence in the traditional ones.” With- out considering the assets lost in eastern Europe, in a number of former British colonies (India and Burma) and in China (after the declaration of the People’s Republic in 1949), the extension of Ge- nerali’s network abroad was virtually the same as prior to the world conflict. Simultaneously, significant steps were being taken to boost op- The Milan Head Office is established. In 1947, Generali’s two historic hail and accident subsid- iaries – Anonima Grandine and Anonima Infor- tuni, both of which had been founded at the end of the previous century – were incorporated into the Parent Company. Their organisational struc- tures formed the base of the Milan Head Office, with headquarters in piazza Cordusio, which be- gan operations in 1955. The recovery 56
  3. 3. Looking in 1951 - Standard General is acquired in Johannes- burg, South Africa. 1953 - Mario Tripcovich is appointed chairman. The European Insurance and Reinsurance Fed- eration (CEA – Comité Européen des Assurances) is set up. By grouping the insurance associations of 18 European countries, its aim is to promote harmonisation of sector regulations. CEA’s first chairman is Ranieri Babboni, previously a legal consultant for Generali. 1955 - The Milan Head Office, whose task is to manage operations in the TPL, accident and health lines of business in Italy, is established. 1956 - Camillo Giussani is appointed chairman. Generali celebrates its 125th anniversary with great pomp. Generali acquires Vanguard, an insurance com- pany based in Sydney, Australia. 1960 - Gino Baroncini is appointed chairman. ance of payments – became fuel for growth. In the decade, the volume of exports grew four times, that of reserves currencies eight times. In this scenario, Generali devoted con- siderable attention to reorganising its structure in the Italian market by streamlining management, improving co-ordination and containing adminis- trative costs. Within this framework, the most significant change was the crea- tion – in 1955 – of the Milan Head Office, which took over the activities previously carried out by the two long-established subsidiaries Anonima Grandine and Trieste reverts to Italian rule. Following the agreement be- tween the Italian and Yugoslav governments with the London memorandum in 1954, Trieste – where the Company had been estab- lished and its Central Head Office had always been located – returned to Italy after a decade of foreign military rule. Il Bollettino, the Company’s house organ, published Trieste Nostra, a deeply felt celebration of the city’s “second redemption”, thereby ideally joining the 100,000 who wel- comed the Bersaglieri regiment in Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia. 1951-1960 57
  4. 4. 1951-1960 Looking out 1951 - American endocrinologist Gregory Pincus creates the oral contraceptive pill. 1952 - Elisabeth II is crowned Queen of Britain. Anonima Infortuni. The task of the new unit, 1953 - New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepa- lese sherpa Tenzing Norgay conquer Mt Everest. over the next three decades, was to manage The warring factions in Korea sign the Panmun- operations in the TPL, accident and health sec- jom armistice, whereby the 38th parallel becomes the border between North and South tors in Italy. Korea. Among the many events of the decade, two had 1954 - The first nuclear submarine, the a particularly significant impact on the Company Nautilus, designed by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, is launched. and marked the symbolic end of a tormented Elvis Presley sings his first chart busters: phase and the opening up of new opportuni- That’s All Right Mama and Blue Moon of Kentucky. 1956 - The Suez crisis erupts after the Canal is nationalised by Egypt. The Soviet military intervention in Hungary quashes the reformist movement led by Imre Nagy, who is subsequently executed. 1957 - The dog Laika is the first living creature to be shot into space onboard Sputnik 2. Feltrinelli publishes Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, which had been banned in the Soviet Union for its “slanderous” nature. Pasternak won the Nobel prize in Literature in 1958. Jack Kerouac publishes On the Road. 1958 - Pelé’s Brazil wins the World Football Cham- pionship in Sweden. 1959 - The rebels led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara seize power in Cuba. Volvo patents the three- point safety belt system. The 125th anniversary. In 1956, Ge- nerali celebrated its 125th anniver- sary with two great events: on May 20 in Trieste, and on May 21 in Venice, where the Group’s international gather- ing – with over 8,000 members of staff from 31 countries – took place. In the photos: two mo- ments of the Venice gathering; the ceremony in the courtyard of Palazzo Ducale and the distribution of mementos by workers of the Ca’ Corniani farm dressed in traditional costumes. The recovery 58
  5. 5. The Polesine flooding. Italy, which was struggling back to normal- ity after the war, was struck in 1951 by a catastrophic flood that sub- merged the entire delta of the Po River, killing 84 and forcing thou- sands to leave their homes. The nation responded generously to the tragedy. The insurance industry – through its association ANIA – donated over 40 million Liras in relief funds. Besides the significant fi- nancial aid, topped up by donations from individual employees, Ge- nerali hosted over 100 children, aged between 6 and 12, from the dis- aster areas in its farm at Ca’ Corniani. ties. On October 26, 1954, Trieste – which hosted the Central Head Office – reverted to Italian rule after a decade of foreign occupation. On March 25, 1957, the treaties establishing the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community were signed in Rome. This was the first step of the process that would ul- timately lead to the creation of the European Union and of the single currency. Generali, a Eu- ropean company by vocation, was ready for the challenges ahead. The signing of the treaties of Rome. Representatives of the German, French, Italian, Belgian, Luxembourg and Dutch governments met in Rome on March 25, 1957 and signed the treaties establishing the European Economic Communi- ty and Euratom. It was the building block of the new Euro- pean integration, whose first immediate goal was to create a customs union to encourage the free circulation of goods among member countries. A major export boom. At the beginning of the Fifties, Italy had fully emerged from the postwar recession. The economy, however, was still under-developed, with over 40% of the active population working in agriculture. Thanks to low labour costs and to the gradual opening of foreign markets, the flow of Italian products abroad increased substan- tially. Initially, exports mainly consisted of agricultural produce, but starting from the second half of the decade the nascent Italian indus- try – textile and mechanical – played an increasingly significant role in the international market and paved the way for the major econom- ic boom of the Sixties. 1951-1960 59
  6. 6. 1961-1970 The years of the economic miracle A fter the destructions caused by the war and the reconstruction efforts of the Fifties, the outlook for the new decade was bright with the promise of more diffused wealth and greater economic stability. Italy witnessed the years of the “miracle”. National income was constantly improving in real terms, industrial output was booming and the balance of payments was firmly in the black. However, public spending both at a central and regional level was Europ Assistance. Following an initiative by the French sub- growing out of control. The insurance sector sidiary La Concorde, Europ Assistance was established in benefited from the positive economic trend and Paris. The new company, providing assistance to tourists and workers abroad, offered a wide range of innovative servic- particularly the overall increase in wages. Other es. Over the decades, Europ Assistance has grown to become positive aspects were the strong development of the world’s leading player in the business, supported by the Generali Group international network in terms of marketing trade and exchange between various economic and services. areas and the spreading of mass motorisation. In Europe, premium income was growing at an Australia and Latin America. However, some less annual rate of 15%, while the pace was even positive factors did exist, such as the imbalance faster in some emerging markets, namely Japan, between supply and demand. The motor third party liability sector, for example, came under the spotlight in all markets as a consequence New headquarters in Milan. In 1961, the Milan Head Office was transferred to Via Tiziano. A truly imposing complex, the new headquarters spread over 3,800 sqm (the façade was over 200 m long). On the first floor was the Genera- li logo: the St Mark’s lion in gilded bronze, measuring three meters at the base and two and half metres in height. The years of the economic miracle 60
  7. 7. Looking out 1961 - Soviet cosmonaut Jury Gagarin is the first man in space. The Berlin wall is constructed to pre- vent the exodus from East to West Germany. 1962 - Dr. No, the first film starring Sean Connery as secret agent 007, is released. 1963 - US President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas. 1965 - The Mont Blanc tunnel, which connects Italy and France, is opened. The Beatles release one of their big- gest hits ever: Yesterday. 1967 - Surgeon Christiaan Barnard performs the first human heart transplant operation. 1968 - Martin Luther King, leader of the move- ment for the emancipation of black people and Nobel peace laureate in 1964, is murdered. Student revolts break out through- out the world. Jim Hines is the first man in the world to run 100 meters in less than Large risks. In the Sixties, growing assets in the industrial and commercial sectors, concen- ten seconds. trated economic interests in calamity prone ar- 1969 - A student from Prague, Jan Palach, dies eas, increasingly large means of transport led after setting himself on fire as a protest against to serious difficulties in the handling of risks, Soviet occupation. with huge sums being paid when claims arose. It was in this period that the first ever space in- surance policies were issued. Generali played a leading role in this sector by designing a spe- cific coverage for the San Mar- co initiative, a space project developed by the Italian aeronautical research centre in Rome together with NASA. In the photo above, the Santa Rita platform, used for the first ever Italian launch in 1964. of the explosive and disorderly development of car circulation in a situation where road networks, the legal framework and preventive measures were still inadequate. It was in these years that the international insurance market was beginning to confront the issue of large risks, due to the increasing size of instruments used for travel, life and work. These were the years of the first jumbo jets, supertankers, megastores 1961-1970 61
  8. 8. 1961-1970 Moonlanding. On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 blast- ed off from ramp 39 at Cape Canaveral: destina- tion Moon. On July 21, US mission commander Neil Armstrong was the first man ever to set foot on the Moon, an event which he defined as a “giant leap for mankind”. and huge industrial plants. The demand for increasingly extended coverage was beyond the means not only of individual insurance companies but often of the entire international insurance system. As a result, insurers within the same market were forced to pool resources to generate greater underwriting capacity, while agreements with foreign partners were signed to provide satisfactory services for international clients. The Generali Group, which was directly affected by the changing scenario in view of its international structure and position, was among the first to pursue this policy. An important partnership with Aetna Life & Casualty, the largest multi- branch insurance group in the USA, was signed in 1966. A few years earlier, acknowledging the importance of the British underwriting market for international risks, Generali had set up the United Kingdom Branch in London, thereby re- The Prague Spring of 1968. The crowd watches helplessly as Warsaw Pact tanks invade Czechoslo- establishing those relations, which had been vakia to bring to an end the short-lived democrat- severed in the war years. Generali’s policy aimed ic re-awakening. at strengthening its international presence was, however, affected by the protectionist trends that were emerging in several developing Motorisation comes of age. As available income in households grew thanks to the “economic miracle”, Italy witnessed the phenom- enon of mass motorisation: the number of circulating vehicles in- creased from less than two million in 1960 to over ten million in 1970. The rapid diffusion of cars was sustained by the development of an efficient road network: the A1 motorway linked Milan to Na- ples in 1964. The years of the economic miracle 62
  9. 9. Looking in 1961 - The Milan Head Office is transferred from Piazza Cordusio to the new building in Via Tiziano. 1963 - Generali re-enters the British market by setting up the United Kingdom Branch in London, operating in direct business as well as reinsurance. On the initiative of La Concorde, Europ Assistance is set up in France. The organisation will emerge as the world’s biggest operator in the private assistance business. 1964 - Generali makes its debut in space insur- ance by providing the San Marco project with coverage for the construction and launching of Italian scientific satel- lites. Generali insures the transporta- tion of the bronze door of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, made by Italian sculptor Giacomo Manzù. 1966 - Generali signs an important partnership with Aetna Life & Casu- alty, the largest multi-branch group in the USA. 1968 - Cesare Merzagora is appointed chairman, succeeding Gino Baroncini who is acclaimed hon- orary chairman at the shareholders’ meeting. 1969 - Generali launches a series of initiatives with a view to strengthening its ties with share- holders: a service is set up to assist shareholders in the administration of shares and a newsletter The Generali-Aetna agreement. Above: The two chair- containing details of business trends is published men Olcott D. Smith of Aetna and Gino Baroncini of Ge- twice a year, disclosing, for the first time, consoli- nerali sign the agreement setting up important interna- dated figures. tional co-operation between the two companies at the new Milan headquarters in Via Tiziano. following restrictions imposed on foreign countries. As a matter of fact, numerous banks operators, Generali was forced to pull out of and insurance companies were nationalised Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Algeria and Congo in many of the countries where Generali had and to curtail operations in Latin America. heavily invested in postwar years. In particular, Cesare Merzagora. In 1968, a public figure was called on to chair the Company. An economist “involved in politics”, as he liked to define himself, Cesare Merzagora gained solid expe- rience in finance and industrial manufacturing and held nu- merous government posts, including the second highest in- stitutional role in Italy – President of the Senate – for three legislatures in a row. In his private life, Merzagora was a fine sculptor as well as talented medal maker and he etched sev- eral influential figures of the 20th century. 1961-1970 63
  10. 10. 1971-1980 Overcoming the crises A t the beginning of the Seventies, the impressive ternational scenario was worsened by a crisis in phase of growth that had lasted for two dec- industrial relations, which led to a series of mas- ades began to ebb. Economic slowdown and sive strikes and ultimately to the loss in compet- inflationary pressure went hand in hand with itiveness of Italian exports. political and ideological tensions – to which The insurance industry May 1968 in France had been a prelude – and was also directly affected widespread union demands on industry. The by the bleak climate. Gal- entire world system was rocked by a very seri- loping inflation combined ous slump, which initially manifested itself on with recession led to the the monetary front (with the suspension of the so-called stagflation, with US Dollar’s gold con- tremendous repercussions vertibility standard in on savings, industrial out- August 1971) and sub- put and, consequently, pre- sequently in the energy mium income. In turn, the sector (with the explo- widespread currency fluc- sive increase of prices tuations that followed the Technology. With a view to boosting efficiency decided by oil produc- end of the gold standard and reducing costs, in ing countries in 1973). triggered exchange risks. 1971 Generali set up a new EDP centre, which In Italy, this dramatic in- Another source of major was equipped with state- of-the-art technology. concern – especially in It- aly – came from the motor TPL sector, which had become compulsory in 1971. The “political” pricing policy imposed by the government regardless of real underwriting results recorded by insurance companies cre- ated serious imbalance within the market, caus- ing many insurers to fold up. Generali, which could rely on very solid finances at the beginning of the Seventies, quickly re- alised the real extent of the crisis and decided to accelerate its asset strengthening policy launched in the late Sixties. Thus, a massive in- vestment plan was implemented in the real es- tate sector, which ultimately led to a doubling of Generali’s property in three years. At the Real estate investments. Between the end of the Sixties and the beginning of the Sev- enties, a major investment campaign was launched in the real estate sector. Generali’s urban real estate assets were doubled over a period of three years. Particularly remark- able is the building designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in Segrate, near Mi- lan, that would become the headquarters of the Italian publishing giant Mondadori. Overcoming the crises 64
  11. 11. Looking out 1972 - During the Olympic Games in Munich, swimmer Mark Spitz wins seven gold medals; a Palestinian attack against the Israeli team casts a dark gloom over the games. data processing unit The computerized axial tomog- raphy (CAT) is used for the first in Mestre. A new, time. single marketing de- 1973 - Following the signing of a peace agreement, the Unit- partment was set up ed States withdraws its troops midway through the from Vietnam. The motor TPL conundrum. In Italy, as a consequence decade for branches The Gulag Archipelago by Ale- of the high number of road accident victims – 10,000 ksandr Solzhenitsyn (Nobel prize in Literature in deaths and 250,000 injuries every year – following the supervised by the 1970) is published: the book is a heart-rending in- dizzying growth in the number of circulating cars, law- Veneto and Milan dictment against the horrors of Soviet lagers. makers made third party liability insurance compulsory. The law was officially enforced on June 12, 1971. Rightly 1976 - Apple creates the first personal computer. Head Offices, in a bid hailed as a social conquest, and backed by insurers since 1977 - The meteorological satellite Meteosat is to streamline and en- the Fifties, motor TPL almost led to the collapse of the in- launched into orbit. surance industry due to the pricing policy imposed by the hance the Company’s The film Star Wars opens the famous motion pic- government. ture saga. sales strategy and net- 1979 - After the flight into exile of Shah Reza Pahl- work. In-depth reno- same time, organisational structures and servic- avi, Ayatollah Khomeini rises to power in Iran, where an Islamic republic is subsequently declared. vation also involved es were restructured and rationalised to improve The first elections for the European Parliament the corporate image: profitability and contain costs. From 1971, Gene- take place; the European Monetary System, the aim was to stand- rali’s accounting and administrative operations joined by EEC member states with the exception of Great Britain, is created. ardise the Company’s were concentrated in the Company’s hi-tech 1980 - The Polish inde- presence in all mar- pendent workers’ union Solidarność is established. kets around the short- Bill Gates launches the MS- ened name “Generali” DOS system. – easily pronounced in all languages – combining it with a more mod- ern graphic representation of the winged lion. The new trademark was launched in 1971 and sustained by a massive communication cam- paign based on the slogan “from now on, call us Generali”. In line with the objectives set, the Parent Company’s trademark and logo were also adopted The great crises. In 1971, the suspension of the convertibility of the US Dollar into gold marked the end of a system of fixed exchange rates that had been in force for thirty years. This led to a period of great uncertainty in international trade. Two years lat- er the oil crisis, triggered by the OPEC’s decision to increase prices, accelerated the inflationary trend that was already undermining economies in industrialised countries and worsened recession. 1971-1980 65
  12. 12. 1971-1980 Space risks. To fos- ter the exchange of ideas with clients, Gene- rali promoted an interna- tional forum in 1979 to dis- cuss the issues connected to the commercial and in- dustrial utilisation of space, which soon emerged as a crucial fixture in the agen- da of space operators and experts. Industry and insurance. Being aware of the neces- to deal with new and highly sity to establish a dialogue with counterparts to work out sophisticated risks, such as solutions to common issues, Genera- those relating to satellites li and Confindustria – the Confederation of Italian Industry – promoted a roundtable to be held on a or involving multi-national biennial basis. The “Insurance and Industry” talks became a traditional appointment, taking place at Villa Manin, the companies. As to the lat- residence of Venice’s last Doge. ter sector, a number of by the new companies established over the fol- partnerships with promi- lowing years as part of the restructuring process nent insurance groups – such as Mitsui, Taisho in France, Belgium, Brazil and Austria. and Tokio from Japan and General Accident For the first time, a Group trademark was also from Britain – integrated the agreement signed introduced. The decision was dictated by the in the Sixties with the US Aetna group and increasing need to co-ordinate and support proved particularly profitable. In the Seventies, companies in various markets, with a view to Generali’s increasingly harmonising strategies while maintaining each strategic focus on company’s operative autonomy. It was with this the market found in mind that consulting and technical assistance expression in a se- provided to Group companies were strength- ries of initiatives, mainly ened – especially with regard to for the benefit of share- special risks, reinsurance and in holders and of the public the asset and real estate manage- at large, aimed at provid- ment sector. At the same time, centralised structures were set up The Financial Statements Award. Generali received this award in 1970 from the insti- tute for public relations. A new corporate image. The reno- vation of the Company’s organisa- tional structures was reflected in the creation of a new, more dynam- ic corporate image: the lion underwent a restyling, while the logo was re-designed and shortened to “Generali”. In the photo, managing direc- tor Fabio Padoa presents the new trademark. Overcoming the crises 66
  13. 13. Looking in 1971 - A new trademark is launched with the shortened name “Generali”. Within the framework of a major organisational overhaul, a new EDP centre is set up in Mestre. 1972 - Generali and Aetna establish the Genera- li European Marketing Office (GEMO) in Brussels. After its transfer to London, the unit changes its name to Generali-Aetna European Marketing Office (GAEMO) in 1977. After nearly 30 years, the Company Articles of Association are amended. Rules governing the AGM are also introduced. 1974 - Genagricola is established. Starting in 1980, it will take over all the Group’s agricultural companies. 1975 - Following the setting up of a single marketing department for the Milan and Veneto Head Offices, The earthquake in Friuli. On May 6, 1976, a devastating earthquake rocked the Friuli region in the North East Generali is the first company in Italy to adopt an of Italy, killing 1,000 and leaving 100,000 homeless. underwriting planning and control system. Generali, too, was affected by the disaster: two agency 1978 - The first conference promoted by Genera- employees died, the agency of Gemona was completely li and Confindustria – the Confederation of Ital- destroyed, the offices in Spilimbergo, San Daniele and ian Industry – is held at Villa Manin, near Venice. Tolmezzo were severely damaged, while numerous other The aim of the biennial conference is to discuss buildings were also hit. common issues. 1979 - Enrico Randone is appointed chairman, ing complete information on Group activities. succeeding Cesare Merzagora who is acclaimed honorary chairman at the shareholders’ meeting. Particularly significant was the publication of The Middle East Office a consolidated Group statement – considered Branch is established. to be the most suitable tool to provide an ex- Based in Dubai, its op- erations mainly focus haustive picture of Generali’s complex web on reinsurance and on of interests – and a half-yearly report by the providing support to middle eastern multi- chairman. These initiatives were extremely in- national clients. novative at that time and obtained important acknowledgments, such as the Tagliacedole d’Oro and the Oscar di Bilancio (Financial State- ments Award), awarded to an insurance com- pany for the first time. John Paul II. Following the sud- den death (after a pontificate last- ing only 33 days) of Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I, the Archbish- op of Krakow Karol Wojtyla be- came the new Pontiff. 1971-1980 67
  14. 14. The farming strategy 1851 1933 The first investment. With a view to New acquisitions. In the years between the two diversifying assets set aside to back re- world wars, Italy invests heavily in agriculture serves, Assicurazioni Generali decides thanks to the law enforced in 1928 to encourage to invest in agriculture: the first acqui- reclamation of marshes and agricultural lands in general. The Company thus further pursues investments in agriculture by purchasing farms in Emilia and in Tuscany, including the 2,300- hectare Portonovo farm. 1950 The land reform. Following the land reform, Ge- nerali’s agricultural estate – which was enlarged after the war with acquisitions in the country- side around Rome and in Emilia – is halved: an entire 1,700-hectare farm is expropriated, while a further 2,000 hectares are handed over to the “Fund for the establishment of small agri- cultural properties” and to individual farmers. Further investments are carried out in the Six- sition is a 1,770-hectare plot in a marshy area ties, mainly to restructure and consolidate ex- of the Veneto region. Following a massive land isting property and to enhance specialisation. reclamation drive – culminating in 1879 with Generali launches a “protein plan” to develop the installation of huge water pumping plants – the zootechnical sector and intensifies farm Generali establishes the Ca’ Corniani farm. processing initiatives. The farming strategy 68
  15. 15. 1974 Establishment of Genagricola. The need to op- timise the management of such a wide range of agricultural activities leads to the establishment of a specialist company: Genagricola. The new company begins operations with the acquisi- tion of Poggiobello farm in eastern Friuli and the San Martino farm in Lazio. Five other farms were acquired between 1976 and 1978, giving a total area of 1,100 hectares. 1980 The concentration of ac- tivities. In 1980, shareholders approve the decision to transfer enters the rice farming and foresta- all the Parent Company’s farmlands tion sectors, with the acquisition of two to Genagricola, whose share capital is in- woods in the Carnia region and a rice farm creased from 15 to 90 and, subsequently, to 123 near Pavia. In 1992, Generali takes over the billion Liras. In the Eighties, Genagricola widens Sant’Anna estate, a producer of fine wines in the the range of its activities by acquiring not only Veneto region. Some years later, Genagricola will new property but also firms specialising in the transfer its headquarters to Sant’Anna. production and sale of seeds, fungicides, insecti- 2004 cides and powder serums. New horizons. Genagricola expands to Roma- 1992 nia with the acquisition of 3,000 hectares of Diversification and specialisation. With a view grain fields and 300 hectares of vineyards, in the to further diversifying activities, Genagricola Timisoara region. Genagricola chairman Giuseppe Perissinotto points out the area in Romania, where the fields acquired in 2004 are located.
  16. 16. 1981-1990 Towards new horizons I n December 1981, Generali turned 150. The recorded another upsurge early in the Eighties, event was solemnly celebrated in June of the fol- hitting an all-time high in Italy of 21.1%. To make lowing year at the AGM for the approval of the matters worse, tight mon- 150 report. On that occasion, the meeting took etary policies adopted by th place at the Verdi theatre, Trieste’s opera-house. central banks in the main After one and a half centuries, Generali’s posi- industrialised countries tion was as strong as ever. It was leader in the – above all the US – seriously domestic market, controlled a Group compris- slowed down the economy, ing 35 insurance and 67 real estate and financial triggering a recessive climate companies and was among the biggest players and growing unemployment. in Europe. Generali’s accounts recorded an un- Insurers, too, had to face a broken spell of good results, while its assets were string of problems: in the life extremely solid. The Generali share was the blue sector, new business had prac- chip in the Italian stock exchange, also thanks to tically ground to a halt as a a 46.5% appreciation in 1981. The overall economic picture, however, was not a very favourable one: infla- tion, which had exploded in the mid-Seventies, A century and a half. The pictures highlight moments of the celebrations marking the Company’s 150th anniversary, which were held in Trieste in 1982. From top to bottom: the special post- age stamp issued for the occasion; the commemorative postcard depicting the storm that struck Trieste on December 26, 1831, the day when the Company was founded; the medal etched by Emilio Greco and minted for the occasion; the San Giusto castle decorat- ed with the Generali trademark for the gala evening; the AGM held at the Verdi theatre. Towards new horizons 70
  17. 17. Antarctic mission. In 1988, Generali in- sured the Italian expedition to the Antarc- tic. The initiative confirmed Generali’s com- mitment to scientific research, which had started sixty years earlier with the Nobile Looking in polar mission in 1928. 1982 - Generali’s 150th anniversary is solemnly celebrated with a series of official events. 1984 - “Generali: an open book” is the first advertising campaign launched on the mass media. 1986 - Generali, in co-operation with Taisho, opens its first branch in Japan. in the course 1988 - Generali obtains the San Giusto d’oro, a prize awarded to persons or organisations that consequence of the enormous gap between the of the decade, honour the name of Trieste in the world. “technical rates” awarded to policyholders and individual life 1989 - The new Mogliano Head Office becomes operative. the current interest rates on savings. In non-life premium income Following the establishment of AB-Generali business, inflation bloated claims and premium grew at an aver- Budapest, Generali is the first insurer to start income was affected by the competitive pres- age annual rate a joint venture in an eastern European coun- try that is still under a communist regime. sure arising from the so-called cash-flow under- of 28%. Moreo- Generali obtains the writing: a practice aimed at achieving maximum ver, in 1982 Generali de- Premio Torta, a prize for the restoration of the Squero cash flow, even at the cost of charging non- signed the first policy in Vecio in Venice, an old ship- technical premium rates, ECUs (European Currency yard depicted in a painting by Canaletto and currently so as to take advantage Units) and the following the headquarters of Gene- of the high interest rates year it established Gener- rali’s nautical club. 1990 - The Registered Office applied in the financial Comit mutual funds, in is brought back to Trieste. market. Thanks to its vast collaboration with Banca international experience, Commerciale Italiana. In non-life business, the Generali radically reno- Company further pursued its strategy aimed at vated its life business in curbing the claims-to-premiums ratio – which Italy by launching GESAV, continued to be a source of underwriting losses – a highly innovative policy and at designing innovative products to encour- ensuring excellent profit- age new business. sharing. The success of Though absorbed in dealing with current prob- the new policy was lems, Generali did not neglect to look ahead and spectacular: to create the base for future development, espe- Restorations. As part of the long-running initiative aimed at safeguarding its real estate property, Genera- li restored the historic San Marco café in Trieste, which had been the favourite haunt of Italian patriots during the Great War. Italy’s ambassadors. In 1988 Generali’s gondolas – caretakers of an ancient tradition – took part, as Italy’s official representatives, in the opening ceremony of the first New York International Art Festival. 1981-1990 71
  18. 18. 1981-1990 cially in the Italian market. As early as 1981, the Company had finalised the acquisition in Mogliano Veneto – between Venice and Treviso – of a vast plot of land for the construction of more modern headquarters, best suited for meeting future challenges. Half-way through the decade, Generali launched a vast technological upgrad- ing project, with the installation in its offices of thousands of computerised working stations and the creation of a network linking all its The Head Office for Italian operations. Opened in 1989, the agencies. On the other hand, Generali’s expan- new Mogliano Veneto complex sion policy abroad in the early Eighties remained – on the mainland near Venice – houses the departments super- very cautious and only highly selective acquisi- vising operations in Italy, a task originally managed separately tions were carried out. by the Milan and Veneto Head However, the international scenario was rapidly Offices. The futuristic complex, which spreads over an area of 34 changing: in the wake of the US, world economy hectares and includes 55,000 sqm of office space, is the venue of the was gradually moving out of recession, accom- new IT unit, the Group School, the panied by the good performance of internation- underwriting, administrative and marketing departments, as well al stock markets. Inflation, too, was beginning to as the centralised archives and slow down, following the stabilisation of raw ma- warehouses. terial prices. However, it was on the political side that the signs of the changing times were more evident. The rise to power in the Soviet Union of Towards new horizons 72
  19. 19. World Cup glory. In 1982, the Italian football team, coached Looking out by Enzo Bearzot, won the World Cup in Spain: it was Italy’s third 1981 - The first flight of the Space Shuttle pro- title. On the right, the commem- gram blasts off from Cape Canaveral. orative stamp. 1982 - Philips and Sony launch the compact disc on the Japanese market. Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 1983 - The marketing of Swatch watches and the implementation of starts. 1986 - During the 27th Congress of the Com- the perestroika – a sweeping munist Party of the Soviet Union in Moscow, reform policy – triggered an Mikhail Gorbachev announces the beginning of perestroika. unstoppable process culmi- Reactor unit 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear nating in two great symbolic power station in Ukraine explodes, causing a events: the fall of the Berlin major nuclear disaster. Reinhold Messner is the first man in the world to wall and the Tienanmen up- climb all fourteen peaks in the Himalaya exceed- rising in Beijing, both in 1989. ing a height of 8,000 metres. These were the first warning 1987 - Intifada, the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, starts. signs of a process that – over 1989 - The American the following decade – would tanker Exxon Valdez spills 35,000 tons of oil lead to globalisation, in which economic, po- Europe, from which in the sea in Alaska. litical and social events would have a planetary it had been expelled 1990 - Iraqi troops impact, thanks also to the new information over forty years ear- invade Kuwait. technology, capable of cancelling both time and lier. That was just the space distances. first step towards new challenges. Facing a glo- Generali’s actions were in line with the chang- bal market requires adequate size, a widespread ing times, and the Company was in a position international presence, ability to achieve syner- to seize opportunities and rise to challenges as gies as well as expertise and advanced technolo- they emerged. A clear indication that times were gy. These facts were well known in the corporate indeed changing was the decision to purchase world, which had often been characterised by a significant stake in a Hungarian company: the operation marked Generali’s return to eastern The wall comes down. In November 1989, the wall that had divided Berliners for thirty years came crashing down as the citizens of the East took to the streets. The fall of the symbol that stood for the di- Tienanmen Square, Beijing. On April 17, 1989, thou- vision between two opposing visions of the world sands of Chinese students demanded democratic re- heralded the advent of globalisation – a new era in forms by occupying the capital’s largest square. The dem- which events and ideas have planetary implications onstration was crushed by the army in June, bringing the and repercussions. movement to an abrupt and bloody end. 1981-1990 73
  20. 20. 1981-1990 Growth of average life expectancy ■■ in Italy from 1890 to 1990 Life expectation increases. One of Female Male the most visible consequences of in- creased wealth in the last centu- ry has been longer life expectan- cy. In the last decades of the mil- lennium, longer life has seriously affected the stability of state pen- sion systems and boosted demand for additional insurance-oriented private pension schemes. ing a common corporate identity. At the same time, the Company was taking steps to strengthen its international presence with the ac- disorder- quisition of new companies and the ly merger and opening of branches in numerous acquisition campaigns. Against markets such as Japan, Switzerland, this highly competitive background, Generali Belgium, Germany, Great Britain and was successful in finalising its projects: in 1989, it the United States. The largest operation, howev- inaugurated the first section of the Head Office er, was the take-over bid for Compagnie du Midi for Italian Operations in Mogliano Veneto, near in France launched in late 1987. Though the bid Venice, which housed the new IT centre – the was unsuccessful, the operation marked a turn- technological heart of the Company – and the ing point in Generali’s international expansion Group School for the professional training and strategy, paving the way for the important acqui- upgrading of its employees, with a view to forg- sitions of the Nineties. Generali in space. As evidence of the Company’s Back to the East. In 1989, Generali became the first insurer from the West leading role in the complex space insurance sector, to initiate a joint venture in an eastern European country that still had a the Generali trademark was reproduced on a launch- communist government. Above: chairman Enrico Randone, Generali CEO er that orbited the Soviet spacecraft Soyuz from the in Austria Dietrich Karner and the head of the Hungarian state insurer Alla- Bajkonur space centre. mi Biztositó join hands to mark the setting up of AB-Generali Budapest. Towards new horizons 74
  21. 21. The Company’s share capital growth 1831 Generali is founded with a share capital of 2 million Florins, divided in 2,000 shares of 1,000 Florins each. 1857 Generali shares are listed for the first time on the Trieste Stock Exchange (right). 1906 The company capital is converted into Crowns. 1919 Generali becomes Italian. Its share capital, now expressed in Liras, amounts to 13.2 million. 1939 On the eve of World War II, following two rights issues and a split operation, the capital rises to 120 million Liras; the face value of each share is 200 Liras. 1947-49 Following the postwar monetary devaluation, the company capital is increased initially from 1.2 billion and successively to 4 billion Liras through three operations. 1969 Starting 1951, seven bonus issue operations bring up company capital to 16 billion Liras. 1970-75 With three operations, including rights and bonus issues, the company capital increases to 41.1 billion Liras. 1987 In ten years, eight bonus issue operations raise the company capital to 420 billion Liras. 1988-2000 In order to finance the large expansion of the Nineties, the company capital is brought up to 2,506 billion Liras. 2001 The company capital is converted into Euros. 2008 On July 21, 2008, Assicurazioni Generali’s share capital amounts to 1,410,029,542 Euros. The Company’s share capital growth 75
  22. 22. 1991-2000 A leading player in the global market T he drive towards globalisation was growing. ingly complex demands and thus to lure them Barriers were falling not only in geopolitics but away from competitors. In this context, insur- also on a business level. As competitive pressure ance was gradually expanding into the area of increased, many operators were setting their financial services, on which a growing number sights away from their traditional core activi- of savers were relying for their changing needs. ties, making inroads into related business. The Among these, was the demand for additional aim was to provide clients with an ever wider pension coverage that had been stimulated range of services, in order to meet their increas- by the crisis of state funded pension systems. In Italy, this situation boosted the life insurance sector, which passed from 25% to 60% of over- all premium income in just a decade. Quite nat- urally, the boom attracted a significant number of big banking and financial groups. As an answer to these changes, which were taking place in all major markets, Generali re- sponded by signing business co-operation agreements with prominent banking groups and by designing innovative life products (in- The European Union. On February 7, 1992, the ministers of the twelve countries that made up the EEC signed the Maastricht treaty, defining the process for the establish- ment of the European Union. Generali without frontiers. In 1990, the Company‘s growing international presence was highlighted by the launch of an innovative advertising campaign in the main countries of operation that hinged around the catch phrase “Generali: the insurer without frontiers”. Generali’s example – it was the first insurance group to present itself with a unique message worldwide and a strong corporate identity – would soon be imitated by competitors. A leading player in the global market 76