Operating performance and expansion, key factors in the results reported by Grupo SURA for 2015
Grupo SURA's subsidiaries obtained a good level of operating performance throughout Latin America, at year-end 2015. The expansion of its insurance business also deserves special mention given the acquisition of the RSA´s Latin American operations as well as Seguros Banistmo in Panama. Grupo SURA's total assets rose by 17.6% year-on-year to COP 55.5 billion, with consolidated revenues rising to COP 14.0 billion, for a year-on-year growth of 19.2%. The Company's rating was upgraded by Fitch Ratings, from BBB- to BBB with a stable outlook. A new member was welcomed to the Company's Board of Directors, Mr. Alejandro Piedrahita, Chief Corporate Finance Officer for Grupo Argos, now that Mr. José Alberto Velez has resigned from the Board. Mr. Velez was publicly thanked for his valuable contribution to the Company. Medellin, March 31 2016. At today´s Annual Shareholders´ Meeting, Grupo SURA presented its Annual Management Report along with the results for 2015, underscoring the good level of operating performance of its subsidiaries, namely Suramericana S.A, specializing in the insurance and trend and risk management business, and SURA Asset Management, an expert player in the pension, savings and investment sectors; this in addition to highlighting the substantial progress made as part of the Group´s ongoing strategy to expand its regional presence and strengthen its investment portfolio. With regard to its financial performance, and as first announced at the end of February, the Company's main highlights were its consolidated revenues which reached COP 14.0 billion, for a year-on-year increase of 19.2%, this mainly due to the growth obtained in retained premiums, commission income as well as revenues from services rendered. Consolidated net income totaled COP 1.3 billion, for a decline of 18.8% compared to 2014, this mainly due to factors such as the amount of wealth tax payable on the part of the Companies belonging to the SURA Business Group as well as market volatility affecting its investments and rising exchange rates, which led to a devaluation of the Colombian peso against the currencies of all those countries where Grupo SURA is present. As a result of the above, the dividend payment submitted by Grupo SURA's Board of Directors for the consideration of its Shareholders at today´s Annual Meeting came to COP 456 for each ordinary and preferred share outstanding. Thus approved and declared, this represents an 8% increase compared to the previous dividend paid out in 2014, and is 1.29% higher than the CPI. On the other hand, and in token of the Company's sound financial position Grupo SURA's consolidated assets came to COP 55.5 billion, showing an increase of 17.6%, while total shareholders´ equity came to COP 22.8 billion , for a growth of 5.2%. Regional consolidation and expansion In terms of strategy and as stated in our latest Annual Management Report, "expanding our geographical presence and developing a comprehensive range of financial services, were just some of the areas where we made significant strides in 2015". This was amply evidenced by the acquisitions made by Suramericana S.A. namely the RSA insurance companies in a total of 6 Latin American countries, as well as Seguros Banistmo in Panama. As for extending its investment portfolio, Grupo SURA extended its stake in SURA Asset Management from 67.1% to 78.7%, thanks to having purchased the stakes held by JP Morgan and General Atlantic, 4.34% and 7.31% respectively. With regard to the recently acquired RSA operations, on March 1, Suramericana took over the corresponding insurance company in Brazil, with more countries fo follow as soon as the corresponding regulatory approvals are obtained. Once completed, the SURA Business Group shall be present in a total of 11 countries and shall be attending 44 million clients through its subsidiaries and core investments with an even more comprehensive range of insurance solutions and financial services, this with the aim of accompanying the Latin American people throughout the different stages of their lives. "We were very pleased with the results obtained in 2015. This year shall pose its own challenges since we shall be assimilating the newly acquired RSA operations into our own regional business, this being a key step in consolidating our Latin American presence. The main challenges here shall be harnassing synergies and the two-way transfer of knowledge. Furthermore the global economic outlook remains unclear and this shall have a consequent impact on our different lines of business. However we remain confident with the way in which our different companies are currently performing and their contribution to our overall strategy." Also in terms of the Company's financial achievements, Fitch Ratings recently announced that it had upgraded Grupo SURA's international credit rating from BBB- to BBB for which it issued a stable outlook. Nevertheless Standard & Poor´s also maintained the Group´s credit rating at BBB, but downgraded its outlook from stable to negative, as a result of a downgrade to the country´s sovereign rating. Changes to the Group´s Board of Directors As part of the decisions taken today by the Shareholders at their Annual Meeting, a new member was appointed to the Board of Directors, namely Mr. Alejandro Piedrahita Borrero, current Chief Corporate Finance Officer of Grupo Argos, who shall be replacing Mr. José Alberto Vélez Cadavid, who has served on the Board since 2004 and is now standing down as a result of his resignation as Grupo Argos´ Chief Executive Officer. With regard to Mr. Velez's valuable contribution as member of the Group´s Board of Directors, Mr, Bojanini, Chief Executive Officer of Grupo SURA stated "his contribution to the Group´s development, growth and consolidation has been unquestionable. His 19 years of service to Suramericana, where he rose through the ranks to become its Chief Executive Officer, marked a milestone in the history of this subsidiary, and his subsequent appointment to Grupo SURA's Board of Directors provided fundamental support in what was for us a crucial stage of our expansion strategy. I would like to make special mention of his personal warmth and character, his knowledge and strategic vision, as well as having amply demonstrated himself to be a businessman with a strong sense of responsibility to the country as well as to the environment. About Grupo SURA Grupo de Inversiones Suramericana, the parent company of the Sura Business Group is a Latin American company listed on the Colombian Stock Exchange and registered with the ADR- Level 1 program in the United States. We are also the only company from the Latin American Diversified Financial Service Sector to be admitted to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, which lists companies who have become global benchmarks thanks to the best practices they have adopted from the economic, environmental and social standpoints. GRUPO SURA has two fields of investment: its core strategic interests in the financial service, insurance, pension, savings and investment sectors; and its industrial interests in the processed food, cement, energy and infrastructure sectors.