At its 23rd ordinary Shareholders' Meeting, Helvetia Holding presented a good business performance to the 2,053 shareholders with voting rights in attendance (representing 71.05% of the share capital). Helvetia achieved an IFRS earnings after tax of CHF 431.0 million and posted pleasing business volume growth of 3.9% in original currency to CHF 9,073.3 million. The Shareholders' Meeting approved the management report, financial statements and consolidated financial statements for 2018. It also discharged the Board of Directors and Executive Management from their activities in the 2018 financial year.
From a mere seller of products to solutions provider
Doris Russi Schurter, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, explained to the Shareholders' Meeting how client requirements have changed in recent years. She noted to the shareholders how the advance of digitalisation is posing new challenges to insurance companies by requiring them to come up with real innovation. Helvetia is taking a proactive approach to these challenges. In claims settlement, for example, there are many practical services on offer that go beyond simply paying for losses. For example, Helvetia works with partner workshops in treating damage to vehicle bodywork and with the JAROWA tradesman platform for building damage. Summing up the company's efforts, Doris Russi Schurter said: "By taking these measures, we are progressing from being a mere seller of products to a valuable solutions provider, while at the same time ensuring we don't neglect the important core business under the helvetia 20.20 strategy."
New offers in the form of ecosystems
helvetia 20.20 also focuses on accessing new income sources. For example, Helvetia is developing the "Home" ecosystem, which addresses all the requirements related to housing and home ownership; including the search, valuation, financing and purchase of the property, protection, value retention and potential future sale. MoneyPark, Switzerland's biggest mortgage broker of which Helvetia is a majority shareholder, is the main anchor within the ecosystem. A number of partners are involved in the ecosystem, such as PriceHubble for the property valuation or Immoledo, a useful tool for homeowners to preserve the value of their property. "The 'Home' ecosystem removes the traditional silos and creates a full customer journey related to housing. At the same time, this approach opens up new customer access channels", said Philipp Gmür, CEO of Helvetia Group at the Shareholders' Meeting.
Higher dividend and share split
The Shareholders' Meeting approved the proposal by the Board of Directors to increase the dividend by CHF 1.00 to CHF 24.00. It also approved a share split at a ratio of 1 to 5. Following good performance in recent years, the Helvetia share price is now at a high level. The aim of the split is to continue to make the share accessible to a broader investor base as attractive stock. The first trading day after the share split will be 13 May 2019.
Doris Russi Schurter confirmed as Chairwoman
The shareholders elected Doris Russi Schurter as Chairwoman of the Board of Directors for an additional term of office and confirmed the re-election of the other nine members of the Board of Directors. As announced in March 2019, Hans-Jürg Bernet will reach the statutory age limit of 70 this year and will thus leave the Board of Directors. Doris Russi Schurter praised his contribution: "On behalf of the Board of Directors and Executive Management I would like to thank Hans-Jürg Bernet most sincerely for his considerable and longstanding commitment. He has made a material contribution to Helvetia's successful growth." A replacement candidate was not proposed to the Shareholders' Meeting, thus reducing the size of the Board of Directors to ten. Hans-Jürg Bernet was also a member of the Compensation Committee. The Shareholders' Meeting elected Regula Wallimann as his successor and the other three members of the Compensation Committee were each re-elected for a one-year term.
The shareholders also approved the fixed and variable compensation for the members of the Board of Directors and Executive Management. All motions were approved.