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19 October 2006

Guardian: Allianz calls for single European financial services authority

Michael Diekmann, chief executive of insurer Allianz, today called for a single European financial services authority to regulate a sector increasingly dominated by large pan-European groups.

The creation of a single regulatory body similar to the US Securities and Exchange Commission is controversial as national regulators are not keen to give up power to a cross-border body.

Allianz, the largest EU company to turn itself into a European legal entity or SE, urged the appointment of a lead supervisory authority in the headquarters country of cross-border groups as a first step.

Mr Diekmann said Allianz now reported to 48 different national supervisory authorities across three financial sectors and was active in 29 European countries in insurance, banking and asset management.

'Our cross-border experience shows us that we need a lead supervisory concept and ultimately an EFSA.

'Of course, this body could work alongside local and national authorities, but it would be much better at dealing with the challenges of cross-border operators and groups such as Allianz,' he said. 'For us, bureaucracy would decrease and transparency for the customer would increase at the same time.'

Mr Diekmann said that, initially, the lead supervisory authority could take responsibility for all of a cross-border group's regulatory issues on behalf of other countries. Ultimately, 'really far ahead,' an EFSA based in Brussels would deal with pan-European groups such as his own.

'That would require political will from local regulators to give up control which, frankly, I don't see at this time,' Mr Diekmann said, indicating that Britain's FSA could serve as a model. 'The FSA has a good reputation for quality, but others don't,' he added.

Charlie McCreevy, EU internal market commissioner, has called for closer co-operation among national supervisors, publishing proposals to limit their powers to block cross-border banking mergers on so-called 'prudential' grounds.

The committee of European securities regulators (CESR) is also working on plans for convergence of supervisory practices and standards.
By David Gow

See also Allianz Presentation

© The Guardian

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