Sinisa Lovrincevic: First of all, allow me to thank you on behalf of TRUST Re for this interview in Baden Baden, as maintaining open communication with our partners is one of our main goals. Coming back to your question, if we look at the operational performance of 2017, we can say that we are in line with our plans on all lines - budget plans, activities, marketing, underwriting performance etc. At this time, based on non-audited figures, we can say we had a good performance in 2017, maintaining a solid position. If we look at the results from the first half of 2018, in comparison with the first half of 2017, we recorded, also based on non-audited figures, a 13% growth in premiums. Our combined ratio also improved, decreasing in comparison with the previous year and remaining in line with our 5-year average. For the first half of 2018, the combined ratio was 96.5%, compared to the first half of 2017 - 98.9%, based on non-audited figures. We believe that the balance sheet remains very strong; this is also the latest opinion of A.M. Best. We have a strong commitment to deliver the best value proposition to our business partners. In brief, we have maintained our strategic direction both in 2017 and 2018, as we planned.
XPRIMM: Can you comment a little on the company's financial strength at the moment?
S.L.: TRUST Re has been operating with a very stable shareholder structure from day one. Our operations benefit from very strong support from all stakeholders in the group, from the Board of Directors, from the Executive Council etc. As A.M. Best recently stated, we have a very strong balance sheet; our performance is solid, we are operating as planned, in line with our strategy. For the moment, we do not see any obstacle to our strategy.
XPRIMM: What is the company's financial rating at the moment?
S.L.: At the moment, we are operating with an A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating of "B++ (Good)" with negative implications, based on some delayed activities during the audit review. The Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating is "bbb+" with the same negative implications, which, of course, is a challenge for us to improve in a short period of time. Together with our team, we are doing our best to come to the same level at which we operated before which was "A-", with a stable outlook. We believe this is a short-term challenge for us.
XPRIMM: Is the current situation impacting claims payment for your clients?
S.L.: If we look at 2017, when we had around 120 meetings in Baden Baden, we didn't record any claim issue with our business partners, so we can say that we managed our claims with responsibility in 2017. If we look at the latest update for 2018, non-audited figures, TRUST Re paid claims worth USD 300 million, part of which (USD 130 million) were large claims. As we speak, we are fully committed to our obligations, especially in the claims area.
XPRIMM: What is the atmosphere in the company? How did the staff receive the news?
S.L.: Taking into account internal activity from the past 7 years, I can say that our belief is that reinsurance is first and foremost a people business; we also consider one of our greatest assets to be people, which is a sentiment felt by our shareholders. So, we have invested significant time in building our teams, sharing knowledge between us and with the markets, learning a lot. The internal atmosphere has people maintaining a positive energy. They're motivated, still realistic and focused, which is most important for us. They are the same people and share the same attitude as before the rating downgrade. We believe that we will return, through all our activities, to the previous level in a very short time. Our focus is on maintaining satisfactory partnerships, one of the common goals for the entire network we operating in.
XPRIMM: How are your shareholders supporting the company at this time?
S.L.: The shareholders are supporting us in many aspects. First of all, with stability. We have a very stable direction, open communication, a transparent approach to the entire market we're operating in, we didn't change any of our strategies during these short-term challenges that I've mentioned before. So, we are remaining close to our clients, learning from them and we are committed to delivering what we promised. We believe the shareholders are very supportive and understanding of our needs and we do not feel any pressure for growth. The most important thing is that we maintain our values, our mission, and our vision to be Reinsurer of Choice.
XPRIMM: Do you have a message for other reinsurance companies during these Baden Baden meetings?
S.L.: We believe that our name says what we're looking for, to TRUST in us, as they did in the last 8 years. We believe in our business partners. People are very well informed. We have the market's support and the message from TRUST Re is that we are very thankful for that.
XPRIMM: You are present in the CEE market and, of course, in Romania for 8 years already. What is your message for the European market?
S.L.: We have our values and we believe in our values on a daily basis. We also believe that the rating "B++ (Good)" is a very good one and our goal is to do our homework, to provide everything necessary in order to satisfy all requests, to be transparent with our regulator and to be in time for this renewal - January 1st, 2019. We are not looking for short-term achievements; we will deliver in the long run. The message to the market is that people still have a human touch, we are living our values as we've done before and, for sure, we will continue this for the years to come.
Watch the video version of this interview at: www.xprimm.tv