Poste Vita, Italian post office's life insurance company, will introduce pensions products

Poste Vita, Italian post office's life insurance company, will introduce pensions products; in first full year of activity, it had premium income of ILr2 tril

ORIGINAL TITLE: Italian post office moves into pensions selling. FULLTEXT: Poste Vita, the Italian post office's life insurance company, is looking to
build on a prolific first year of business by introducing pensions products.
The life company, part of BancoPosta, the post office's new division, wants to
diversify away from its core mail delivery business. Last year it introduced
its own payments cards, started selling mutual funds, mortgages and even new
bond and equity issues to its clients. BancoPosta is looking to become a modern financial services distribution
platform that will use the Internet and call centres as well as its branch
network. Le Poste Italiane's head is Corrado Passera, a former banker and
former McKinsey consultant. He appointed Erick Stattin, former head of Skandia
Italia (also a former McKinsey consultant), to be chief executive of
Naples-based Poste Vita last year. In its first full year of activity, Poste Vita had a premium income of L2
trillion. That could make the post office one of the fifteen largest life
sellers in Italy. Of this total L1.5 trillion came from a simple savings
product, Postafuturo, which allows for a single investment or regular
contributions in an accumulation programme. At the moment the post office
sells life insurance products in 6,000 branches. A significant part of its new business looks likely to come from unit and
index-linked products. Poste Vita received authorisation from insurance market
regulator ISVAP to sell these product types in November 2000. The following
month it launched its first index-linked policy, Protagonisti, which took L500
billion in its first month of sales. The company is also planning to introduce
products linked to mutual funds shortly. In doing so the post office is following other Italian life insurers.
Traditional life insurance products have now been overtaken by index and
unit-linked policies with the latter destined to become the largest- selling
product in Italy. IAMA, the specialist insurance consultancy, has forecast
that unit-linked insurance products accounted for 51 percent of sales in 2000
with index-linked taking 28 percent and traditional policies just 21 percent.
That compares to 16 percent for unit-linked in 1998, 31 percent for
index-linked and 53 percent for traditional products. The growth of the linked
products is said to be a reflection of the expansion of private pension plans
and the desire to increase exposure to equity markets. Indeed the post office's next step will be to start sales of its own pensions
products. It has already received authorisation from the insurance regulator
to constitute a pension fund but is still waiting for the green light from the
investment and securities regulator, Consob, to start selling products through
its network. In addition to personal plans the company wants to sell
unit-linked pension products. Its arrival in the pensions market is a timely one. New rules, introduced at
the beginning of the year, have raised the threshold at which contributions
are no longer tax deductible. The legislation is designed to give a
significant boost to sales of pension products, which until recently, have
failed to match the expansion of other types of savings products in Italy.
Poste Vita, with its extensive sales network and significant potential for
synergies with other areas of the BancoPosta division could become a major
player as the market begins to take off. ISSN 0956-327X; Page 9 Copyright 2001 Lafferty Publications Ltd (c) 2001 Resp. DB Svcs. All rts. reserv.

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