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Bâloise-Holding AG history, profile and corporate video

Bâloise-Holding AG provides insurance, pension solutions and financial services. It also engages in asset management and investment in properties and companies and its operations are carried out through the following areas, including Nonlife, Life, Banking and Other activities. The company was founded on May 2, 1863 and is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland.

Bâloise Group history

Safety is our principle: on 2 May 2013, Baloise celebrated its 150th anniversary.

In 1863, “Basler Versicherungs-Gesellschaft gegen Feuerschaden” (Basler Insurance Company against Fire Damage) is founded. Today, Baloise Group operates in eight countries under the umbrella of Bâloise Holding AG. At the peak of its geographical expansion around 1938, the company is operating in over 100 locations around the world. Even with changing customer needs, there is one principle to which Baloise has always remained faithful: the principle of safety, together with the values “swissness”, “innovation” and “partnership”.

2011: Beginning of group-wide repositioning

The group under the umbrella of Bâloise Holding AG starts to operate as Baloise Group.

Through the acquisitions of Avéro Benelux and Nateus, Baloise gains access to the Walloon part of Belgium, with the company now ranking among the top 5 insurers in non-life across Belgium.

In 2009, Baloise launches the programme “Baloise 2012”, with a view to implementing a Group-wide repositioning. With the Safety World, the company places comprehensive safety to the fore of Group-wide performance: “Making you safer”. Baloise Group is, thus, reaffirming its company motto “Safety is our principle”.

2005: Operational excellence and growth spurt in Luxembourg

With its strategy of operational excellence, Baloise ensures long-term improvement of the business.

In 2006, Baloise Luxembourg acquires Winterthur Europe Vie. With a market share of 9%, it now ranks among the top 5 insurers in the freedom of services business.

In the following year, Baloise acquires Osiguranje Zagreb in Croatia and starts operations in Serbia.

Baloise Life (Liechtenstein) is founded in Balzers, specialising in innovative investment-type life products.

In 2008, all German subsidiaries of Basler as well as Deutscher Ring Leben / Sach are joined under one management with headquarters in Bad Homburg. They are now active under the name Basler Group Germany.

2002: Back in the black after a difficult year; brisk activity within the subsidiaries

After the collapse of the financial markets following the terrorist attacks in the USA, Baloise reports its only loss-making year in 2002.

By the following year, however, the companyis back on track, strengthening the business in its core markets. Baloise takes over the German insurance company Securitas, merging it with its own subsidiary to form Basler Securitas.

In the same year, Deutscher Ring Leben / Sach set up branch offices in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

2000: First steps in the new millennium as a focussed financial services provider

Baloise acquires Bank SoBa from Solothurn, formerly known as Solothurner Kantonalbank and now operating under the name Baloise Bank SoBa. This represents the first step on the way towards implementing the business model of a focussed financial services provider.

The same year sees the foundation of a subsidiary in Zagreb.

The 20th century – Growth and consolidation

1990: One and a half decades of restructuring as well as a successfully thwarted takeover attempt

The 1990s are turbulent years of restructuring for Baloise. The company withdraws from business in Italy, France and the USA, and Rhein Rück, which was acquired in 1991, is sold again in 1997. Sale of the Spanish subsidiary follows in 2001. With the sale of Mercator Bank in 2004, restructuring is complete.

As of 1991, two major shareholders independently from each other hold more than 40% of shares – due to statutory voting restrictions, they are entered in the share register with just 2% of votes each. In 2003, the takeover attempt is thwarted, with the largest shareholder, a nominee, holding as little as 3.8% of Bâloise shares.

1980: Baloise is expanding

In the 1980s, Baloise is expanding in other European countries, including Austria in 1983 with the foundation of Basler Versicherungs-Aktiengesellschaft.

In 1985, Deutscher Ring Leben / Sach is acquired, and in 1986, Baloise becomes the majority shareholder of the Belgian insurance company Mercator in Flanders.

Baloise Insurance Company of America is founded in 1985 and Providence Washington Insurance Company is acquired in 1988.

1971: Today’s corporate structure is established; transition of Basler Austria

In 1971, the Basler companies “Feuer” (Fire), “Transport” and “Unfall” (Accident) merge into “Basler Versicherungs-Gesellschaft” (Basler Insurance Company). For reasons of prudential control, “Basler Lebens-Versicherungs-Gesellschaft” (Basler Life Insurance Company) remains an independent subsidiary.

In Austria, where Basler has operated since 1874, the industrial business is sold. Basler becomes an all-line insurer in mass business.

1962: Foundation of Bâloise Holding in Basel; German headquarters move to Bad Homburg

To minimise the risks between the various Baloise subsidiaries, Bâloise Holding is founded in 1962. It serves as the umbrella organisation for all subsidiary companies, with headquarters in Basel. The logo represents the stylised image of a lying basilisk.

1945: Recovery in Western Europe and new growth spurt

In the wake of the rapid economic recovery in Western Europe, Baloise is able to successfully reposition itself as an insurance company across Europe. With further advances in technology and increasing national wealth, ever more valuables need protection against risks.

Minority interests are acquired in Peru, Venezuela and Ecuador. In 1958, “Basler Unfall” (Basler Accident) is founded.

1939: Europe again faces the misery of war; Basler withdraws to a redoubt

At the beginning of World War II, the international business of the Baloise subsidiaries is brought to a temporary halt. The focus is placed on Switzerland, with the largest injection of capital taking place since the foundation of the company.

Fearing that its headquarters in Basel could be destroyed, Baloise builds a chalet complex in the redoubt in Saanen near Gstaad, which is guarded by the Swiss army. The chalet has an underground vault system with metre-thick walls of reinforced concrete.

50 employees are deployed to this place until 1945 to look after securities and 700,000 life policies. Shortly before the fall of France, the headquarters in Basel are evacuated and closed down during five days.

The flourishing of the insurance industry comes to an abrupt halt with World War I. The Baloise subsidiaries suffer from severe disruption to its international business.

At the end of World War I, a flu pandemic causes a sharp increase in mortality rates, which puts additional pressure on the business.

The post-war period proves difficult, with the subsidiaries primarily fighting the effects of monetary inflation. In addition, large amounts of physical assets are destroyed during the war, for which insurance coverage is no longer needed.

In the 1920s, the crisis appears to have bottomed out; however, further developments are not sustainable. This is why, at the beginning of the 1930s, the world economy slips back into a deep crisis that is marked by high unemployment on the one hand and an abundance of capital on the other.

During this period, Baloise significantly expands its real estate business. In France and Spain, Baloise is co-founder of La Cordialité (1921) and Compañía Vascongada (1929), while Basler Feuer and Basler Transport enter the Luxembourg insurance market in 1933.

1900: Technology as the driving force for business and withdrawal from the USA

At the beginning of the last century, Europe experiences a welcome economic upswing, in which Basler Insurance participates with its various subsidiaries.

At the same time, the world is transformed by the phenomenal success of technology, with living conditions improving considerably within a short period of time. Along with the increasing advances in technology come new dangers that threaten people’s material livelihoods.

In the first decade after the turn of the century, the Baloise companies introduce some new products adapted to these needs, such as an insurance against burglary.

In the United States, Basler Feuer reorganises its portfolio and, from 1901, makes attempts at withdrawing from parts of the US market. However, the company wants to hold on to the profitable Pacific Coast business.

Since the Federal Insurance Office in New York refuses to allow withdrawal while Basler Feuer still has a single policy anywhere in the United States, the Pacific Coast business is sold as well. This, however, turned out to be a blessing in disguise: in 1906, San Francisco is destroyed by a severe earthquake. By that time, Basler Feuer has already long withdrawn from the United States.

On 16 April 1912, the Titanic sinks; Basler contributes CHF 4 million to the loss.

In the same year, the new headquarters of Basler Leben are opened at Aeschenplatz, equipped with the first automatic telephone switchboard in Switzerland.

The 19th century – Foundation and positioning

1891: Germany to become the most important foreign market

Basler builds an imposing palace in Berlin toreinforce the increasing significance of the companyoutwardly.

Today, this building is the home of the Angleterre Hotel, whose portal is still guarded by the basilisk.

1869: Company-own reinsurance and leap across the pond

1869 saw the foundation of “Basler Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft” (Basler Reinsurance Company), under the auspices of “Basler Transport-Versicherungs-Gesellschaft” (Basler Transport Insurance Company). With the foundation of “Basler Leben” (Basler Life) in 1885, the accident insurance business is added to the portfolio.

As its activity expands in scope, Basler Feuer soon has offices in Hamburg, Bremen, Constantinople, Alexandria, Smyrna, Yokohama, Mexico, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.

In the interest of shareholders, businesses that are not profitable are divested again a few years later.

In 1874, a subsidiary is established in Austria; as of 1891, Basler Feuer is doing direct business with San Francisco.

1864: Expansion of operating activities and European expansion

In 1864, Basler expands into two further areas of business. By offering insurance of transport and life, the original aim of operating the insurance business “in all its branches and directions” is to be pursued further.

The new companies are named for their purpose: “Basler Lebens-Versicherungs-Gesellschaft” (Basler Life Insurance Company) and “Basler Transport-Versicherungs-Gesellschaft” (Basler Transport Insurance Company). Where possible and not prevented by monopolies or restricted by quotas, other cantonal permits quickly follow.

With the acquisitions of other cantonal portfolios, first in the Grisons, followed by Geneva, Zurich and Valais, the young Basler soon achieves considerable growth in Switzerland.

On 4 August 1864, Basler Feuer receives its operating license for the Grand Duchy of Baden; on 29 March 1886, it is given operating approval for the Kingdom of Saxony, the last license from the former German national states.

Other countries follow: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Great Britain, France, Italy and the Danubian principalities as well as today’s Romania.

1863: The great fire of Glarus and the foundation of Basler Feuer

On 2 May 1863, “Basler Versicherungs-Gesellschaft gegen Feuerschaden” (Basler Insurance Company against Fire Damage”) received cantonal approval by the Upper house of the canton of Basel-Stadt. The company’s foundation is prompted by the devastating great fire of Glarus in 1861, which heralds the foundation of several Swiss insurance companies. In 1864, Basler Transport and Basler Leben are established.”

*Information from Forbes.com and Baloise.com

**Video published on YouTube by “BaloiseGroup