Vienna Insurance bets on growth in eastern Europe to hit targets

VIENNA, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Vienna Insurance reported on Tuesday a 10.5% increase in pre-tax profit in the first half of 2019, helped by an expansion in Poland and solid demand in its home market Austria.

The group, which operates in more than 10 eastern European countries, confirmed its 2019 and 2020 targets, saying it saw future growth potential primarily in the areas of health insurance, bank distribution, reinsurance and small and midcap companies.

“In spite of the current global economic slowdown and increased escalation of trade sanctions and geopolitical conflicts, we expect strong growth in our central and eastern European markets,” Chief Executive Elisabeth Stadler said in a letter to shareholders.

Profit before tax reached 257.1 million euros ($286.5 million) in the six months through June after 232.7 million the previous year.

Premium volume grew 5.8% to 5.45 billion euros, and the combined ratio - a measure of profitability in the property and accident business - was flat at 96.4%.

The company said it still planned to grow its premium volume to 9.9 billion euros and its pre-tax profit to 500 million to 520 million this year. For 2020, it has a target of 10.2 billion euros in premium volume and pre-tax profit of 530 million to 550 million.

$1 = 0.8973 euros Reporting by Kirsti Knolle