FRANCE'S GAN HAS A GOAL: A PRESENCE IN ALL OF EUROPE

FRANCE'S GAN HAS A GOAL: A PRESENCE IN ALL OF EUROPE

Groupe des Assurances Nationales (GAN), France's second largest state-owned insurance company, reported estimated sales of 75 billion French francs ($13.4 billion) last year, an increase of 17 percent over 1988, Chairman Francois Heilbronner said late last week.

The French insurer is now present in 17 countries and generates 25 percent of its sales abroad, he said. "This is compared to an average of 7.5 percent for all French insurance companies. Expansion has been fast over the past few years in order to establish a strong international base, Mr. Heilbronner explained.GAN's priority now is Europe. "We want a presence in all countries, although I do not think there will really be a single market for several decades," said GAN's chairman.

GAN International, the holding company which groups all GAN's life and non-life overseas interests, scored estimated sales of 6.5 billion francs ($1.2 billion) in 1989, and is expected to boost the figure to 9 billion francs ($1.6 billion) or even more this year, Mr. Heilbronner told reporters. No profit figures were available.

The company's board of directors has authorized GAN to reduce the state share in the capital from 84 percent to 75 percent, Mr. Heilbronner said. The 75 percent minimum for government stakes in nationalized insurers was introduced in last year's reform of the French insurance code.

The group is now looking for growth opportunities in the United States and Japan, but has no plans for "far away" markets like Australia, central and southern Africa or Latin America, Mr. Heilbronner said.