How has the economic crisis affected the insurance sector?
Portugal has surplus market capacity due to the crisis. Since 2013, the life insurance market has began to show signs of recovery. With non-life, we believe the sector will only recover with the economic growth predicted for 2015. However, the crisis has also opened up opportunities in areas like health insurance, pensions, savings.
What are the challenges arising from the Fidelidade-Fosun deal?
It went smoothly, there were no surprises. We are working hard and things are going well as we look to the future. This partnership opens up huge potential compared to the situation we had when we were conditioned by a parent company in the banking sector. Our technical and commercial capacity, and our specific understanding of the insurance area, combined with Fosun’s huge investment management capacity and global reach brings us immense potential for future development.
Will the partnership help wider China-Portugal relations?
The level of knowledge that China, through Fosun and other groups, is acquiring about the Portuguese economy will be an energising factor. In turn, we are gaining knowledge of China and other international markets. I accompanied President Cavaco Silva’s recent visit to China and witnessed the huge interest and huge potential in the relationship. Internally, we opened a China desk to strengthen relations with Chinese companies and Portuguese businesses present in China. It has enormous business potential.
How does the partnership impact on Fidelidade’s expansion strategy?
We have to complement our operations in Portugal with an international strategy. Our main focus is in Portuguese-speaking Africa, because our major European competitors are not there yet. We have competitive advantages because insurance is a very local business, language is an important factor, the legal set up is also very similar. These factors favour our presence. We know how to operate there.