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Meet Europe's biggest investor: Diethart Breipoh, Allianz

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Diethart Breipohl is a modest man. But as finance director of the Allianz insurance group he presides over Dm320 billion of investments, probably the biggest portfolio in Europe. That includes significant stakes in Germany's blue-chip firms, suggesting to some that Allianz is "the spider in the web" of corporate Germany.

A corporate culture but no monastery
Not the "spider in the web"

"We're not," says Breipohl. "We've always said clearly that Allianz does not make industrial policy." But, because Allianz has been quite secretive about its portfolio and its investment strategy, the spider image persists.

Now, to give a more accurate picture, Allianz has agreed to this exclusive interview with Euromoney. It reveals the blue giant from Munich as a conservative and largely benign player on the world's financial markets, but it also signals a quiet revolution within.

Notably since the death of its father figure Wolfgang Schieren in early 1996, influential voices inside this global group are urging a rethink of Allianz's identity. They argue that it's time to shake off the insurer's image, and to reorganize its conglomeration of separate companies. They believe the group is well-placed to break out of its narrow sector and become an integrated...