De Friesland and Achmea to join forces
De Friesland Zorgverzekeraar and Achmea intend to merge with effect from 1 January 2011. The letter of intent was signed on 21 September. Joining forces strengthens the position of the two insurers, both with backgrounds as mutual societies, in the Province of Friesland. The merger still requires regulatory clearance from the Dutch Central Bank (DNB), the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) and the Netherlands Care Authority (NZa). As part of Achmea, De Friesland Zorgverzekeraar will occupy a prominent position as a separate division with its own client council, Executive Board and Supervisory Board.
De Friesland will occupy an independent position within Achmea as a separate division, which will also be responsible for the operational management of the care portfolio of FBTO (part of Achmea). With this expansion, the number of people whose health insurance is entrusted to Achmea group health insurers increases to more than five million. The merger will not result in any job losses and, for De Friesland staff, it offers greater opportunity for development and wider career prospects.
Combining the businesses of De Friesland and Achmea strengthens the position of both companies and therefore enhances the prospects for long-term continuity. The financial risks faced by regional and small health insurers are set to increase rapidly over the next few years as a result of government spending cuts, the expected abolition of equalisation mechanisms and tighter European regulations. Merging with Achmea enables De Friesland to spread those risks.
De Friesland is a sound business with a strong brand in the north of the Netherlands, particularly in Friesland, providing a high standard of service and enjoying the strong confidence of its customers. Earlier this year, with the object of maintaining and building on its established position, the health insurer presented an ambitious strategic plan, with the focus on improving care and relations with the care sector, strengthening its societal role with respect to prevention and quality of life and achieving further growth of De Friesland. This policy, which also includes the strategic care procurement policy presented in August, will be continued.
The business combination promises efficiency savings for the two companies. Although De Friesland and Achmea will be procuring healthcare services independently, De Friesland will assume responsibility for healthcare procurement on behalf of its own insureds and those of other Achmea business units in the Province of Friesland while Achmea will look after healthcare procurement for De Friesland customers outside Friesland.
The additional scope for investment will enable De Friesland to develop new care concepts more rapidly while keeping costs under control. De Friesland customers will be able to make use of the facilities and services provided by Achmea, such as the Achmea Health Centers. And, as a result of the merger, Achmea will obtain a better insight into the use of healthcare provided under the General Exceptional Medical Expenses Act (AWBZ) for its own customers in Friesland. There will also be the opportunity to sell non-life, life and income protection products to De Friesland customers.
De Friesland CEO Diana Monissen commented, ‘ I expect the ties with our customers and the quality of the service we provide to become even better as a result of the merger. This alliance gives a guarantee of long-term continuity for our organisation and our customers. Achmea makes this possible while allowing us not only to retain our core qualities but actually to build on them, too.’
Willem van Duin, chairman of the Achmea Executive Board, is delighted with the planned alliance: ‘De Friesland brings an extremely strong brand and a very sound business with highly committed employees to our group. At Achmea we value and cherish the loyalty which a business is able to establish with its customers. Within our entire portfolio of strong brands, De Friesland will be the pearl of the North where health insurance is concerned.’
About De Friesland Zorgverzekeraar
De Friesland Zorgverzekeraar has 500,000 insured of whom approximately 400,000 live in the Province of Friesland, representing a market share of 65 per cent. The business generates revenues of approximately €1.2 billion and employs more than 600 people. De Friesland is also responsible for the administration of healthcare under the General Exceptional Medical Expenses Act (AWBZ) in the Province of Friesland, involving an additional amount of approximately €1 billion annually.
Achmea is the largest insurance company in the Netherlands and is the parent company of strong brands like Avéro Achmea, Centraal Beheer Achmea, FBTO, Interpolis, Zilveren Kruis Achmea and Agis. Achmea is not a listed company, having a mutual-society background. It seeks to strike a balance between the interests of customers, distribution partners, employees and shareholders. Achmea is part of Eureko, which is active in eight other European countries in addition to its home market of the Netherlands.