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UNIQA prepares capital increase

UNIQA Versicherungen AG (UNIQA) boss Andreas Brandstetter announced plans for a capital increase.

Brandstetter said the move would be carried out later this year instead of only in 2013. He explained that another capital increase would be within the bounds of possibility for next year. He said the revenues from the measure would be used to expand in Eastern Europe (EE). Brandstetter revealed several rivals could soon reset their focus on Asia due to the immense economic rise of the continent. He said UNIQA would be at the ready to make acquisitions in EE "when the time is right".

UNIQA is the fifth-busiest insurance company in EE. It managed to attract 600,000 additional customers last year, most of them in EE countries. The firm, which slightly increased its workforce level last year (2010: 15,000; 2011: 15,100), is expected to lay off 600 staff between 2012 and 2015.

Brandstetter announced such plans in September 2011. He said at that time that 200 positions at the insurer’ Viennese headquarters would be affected. All of the posts are located in UNIQA’s administration department, according to Brandstetter who took over as UNIQA CEO from Konstantin Klien in July 2011. Brandstetter described UNIQA’s administration as "bloated". He said the company "wants to use its full potential again."

The restructure will cost the enterprise – which does business in Austria and 21 other European states – nearly 200 million Euros, according to reports. One of its key competitors in EE is also based in the Austrian capital. Vienna Insurance Group (VIG) operates in 25 European countries.

Meanwhile, OMV said it managed to increase its turnover by 46 per cent to 46 billion Euros in 2011. Austria’s leading oil and gas company apparently managed to cope with the temporary shutdown of the production of oil in Yemen and Libya due to the political changes in the countries.

Wienerberger, one of the main manufacturers of bricks in the world, had a net profit of 40.8 million Euros in 2011. The firm, which is based in Vienna, sustained a loss of almost 35 million Euros in the previous. Wienerberger’s turnover jumped by 16 per cent from 2010 to 2011 to 2.02 billion Euros, executive board head Heimo Scheuch said.

Strabag SE, the biggest Austrian construction company, had a turnover of 13.7 billion Euros last year. Strabag chief Hans Peter Haselsteiner stressed that this 11 per cent improvement had been achieved despite the reluctance of many European state and government leaders to invest in the improvement of infrastructure. Strabag’s earnings before interest and taxes (Ebit) rose by around 12 per cent to 334.8 million Euros. Strabag has 76,900 employees in Austria and abroad.

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