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A corporate culture but no monastery

Meet Europe's biggest investor: Diethart Breipoh, Allianz

Not the "spider in the web"

Would you say there has been a change of style since former chief executive Wolfgang Schieren retired [in 1991] and died early in 1996. Has something happened to Allianz in the sense that you have taken a different tack?

I think we have experienced a change of generation. Every new generation has to look ahead and has to define both strategy and the way of doing things. We never compare our work with the policy or strategy under Dr Schieren. We are all convinced he did a marvellous job for this group. Dr Schieren was very keen on cost cutting before the industry thought of it, and we're going on with that. He was the first [German insurer] in the global business and we are continuing that development. But we cannot always rely on what was a success story in the past. Constantly we have to reconsider whether it will be successful in the future too.

But there is a different perception now Dr Schieren is dead. Many people in the group are suddenly voicing new ideas or objections and saying Allianz should change its identity whereas Dr Schieren would probably have said that Allianz is a pure insurer.

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