Helvetia Holding presented its good business performance at its 22nd ordinary Shareholders' Meeting in St.Gallen to its 1,917 present shareholders with voting rights (representing 70.36 percent of share capital). In 2017, underlying earnings came to 2.2 percent and rose above half a billion francs for the first time. The Shareholders' Meeting approved the Management Report, financial statements and consolidated financial statements for 2017. It also discharged the Board of Directors and Executive Management for their activities in the 2017 financial year.
New brand presence as part of the helvetia 20.20 strategy
The shareholders were also given an in-depth insight into the successful implementation of the helvetia 20.20 strategy. Helvetia strengthens its core business, gains access to new income sources and promotes innovation in a targeted way through this strategy. Moreover, it is centred on the customers and their needs. This is also apparent from Helvetia's new brand presence, which is based on the helvetia 20.20 strategy and was rolled out across the Group last November. One central element of the new presence is the brand claim "simple.clear.helvetia".
Many examples of "simple and clear"
"Our ambition is to live the brand promise 'simple and clear' every day, to our customers, business partners and colleagues", explained Dr Philipp Gmür, CEO of Helvetia Group, at the Shareholders' Meeting. He then elaborated on where Helvetia already offers straightforward services, for example the simplified repair of chassis damage, reporting bicycle theft by chatbot, assessing building insurance claims by video and opportunities for SMEs to assess all insurance requirements from one source and to include European locations for cover as part of a simple process.
Significantly higher dividend again
The Board of Directors proposed a dividend of CHF 23 per share at the Shareholders' Meeting (previous year: CHF 21). This latest increase of about 10 percent will enable shareholders, as in the previous year, to participate in the successful conclusion of the integration process involving Nationale Suisse and Basler Austria, both of which were acquired in 2014. The Shareholders' Meeting approved the proposed dividend. The payout ratio based on the underlying earnings is thus 47%, or 59% based on the IFRS result after tax.
Doris Russi Schurter elected Chairwoman
The shareholders elected Doris Russi Schurter Chairwoman of the Board of Directors. Doris Russi Schurter has been in this role since December 2017. The Shareholders' Meeting also elected all the other seven members of the Board of Directors for another term. As communicated in January 2018, Dr Patrik Gisel, CEO of Raiffeisen, did not stand for re-election. This is in light of the fact that Raiffeisen sold its equity stake in Helvetia Holding last September and left the shareholder pool with Patria Genossenschaft. Doris Russi Schurter praised his contribution: "I would like to thank Dr Patrik Gisel most sincerely for his work on the Board of Directors and the consistently constructive, competent and good cooperation, I also look forward to the fruitful continuation of the long-standing distribution partnership between Helvetia and Raiffeisen."
The shareholders elected Beat Fellmann, Dr Thomas Schmuckli and Regula Wallimann to the Board of Directors. "With Beat Fellmann, Dr Thomas Schmuckli and Regula Wallimann, we are gaining outstanding candidates with extensive management experience in national and international companies and valuable specialist expertise for our Board of Directors," said Doris Russi Schurter expressing her pleasure at the result.
Moreover, the shareholders elected the members of the Compensation Committee for a term of office of one year each and voted on the fixed and variable compensation of the members of the Board of Directors and Executive Management. All motions were approved.