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    ALV   DE0008404005

ALLIANZ SE

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Delayed Xetra  -  11:35 2022-08-15 am EDT
178.78 EUR   -1.27%
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UK pubs giant takes on insurer trio in $1.2 billion COVID trial

06/13/2022 | 09:27am EDT
FILE PHOTO: General view of the High Court in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's biggest pubs group Stonegate, which is suing Zurich Insurance and two peers for 1.0 billion pounds ($1.2 billion) over lockdown losses, battled the COVID-19 pandemic "day by day, venue by venue", a London trial heard on Monday.

Ben Lynch, a lawyer for Stonegate, said the company's 760 insured pubs, bars and night clubs at the centre of the case had each faced separate challenges, opening and shutting at differing times according to regional rules - and seeing business drop by up to 90% below projections.

If successful, the Stonegate case could give fresh momentum to a second wave of claims against insurers that might cost the industry billions of pounds, further damage reputations and push premiums even higher for businesses and consumers, experts say.

Stonegate is suing Zurich Insurance, Liberty Mutual and MS Amlin, alleging the pandemic, government-ordered closures and restrictions triggered business interruption cover multiple times and that the interruption and interference will continue until April 2023.

Insurers accept Stonegate's businesses were covered by their policies, but contend that cover was limited to one business interruption payment of 2.5 million pounds, which has been paid, court documents show.

In total the insurers have paid 14.5 million pounds, including 12 million for additional increased costs of working (AICW), and say their liability is limited to 17.5 million pounds. They label the claim "hugely overstated", filings show.

The case is by far the largest since the Supreme Court ruled last year that many insurers had wrongly rejected business interruption claims from thousands of small businesses that had to close or restrict trading to curb the coronavirus.

Policyholders have so far received nearly 1.35 billion pounds in compensation. But not all policy wordings were covered and, where they were, some dispute payout levels.

Other insurers are following the Stonegate case closely. Asked if their employer was among those being sued, a representative from one insurer watching proceedings told Reuters: "No, not yet."

Insurers have been on notice since Corbin & King, the owner of London's Wolseley restaurant, won a similar BI case against insurer Axa in February - although it has since gone into administration after a battle with its biggest shareholder.

Multi-million pound claims by sandwich-to-pasty chain Greggs against Zurich and Strada and Coppa Club owner Various Eateries against Allianz will be heard next month.

($1 = 0.8212 pounds)

(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley, additional reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

By Kirstin Ridley and Carolyn Cohn


© Reuters 2022
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ALLIANZ SE -1.27% 178.78 Delayed Quote.-13.90%
AXA 0.18% 24.46 Real-time Quote.-6.59%
GREGGS PLC 0.00% 2080 Delayed Quote.-37.67%
MUTUAL CORPORATION -0.06% 1795 Delayed Quote.158.42%
VARIOUS EATERIES PLC 1.39% 36.5 Delayed Quote.-46.72%
ZURICH INSURANCE GROUP LTD -1.86% 432.5 Delayed Quote.10.06%
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Financials
Sales 2022 153 B 155 B 155 B
Net income 2022 7 056 M 7 185 M 7 185 M
Net Debt 2022 24 064 M 24 502 M 24 502 M
P/E ratio 2022 10,2x
Yield 2022 6,36%
Capitalization 72 062 M 73 375 M 73 375 M
EV / Sales 2022 0,63x
EV / Sales 2023 0,61x
Nbr of Employees 155 411
Free-Float 99,9%
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Number of Analysts 18
Last Close Price 178,78 €
Average target price 230,16 €
Spread / Average Target 28,7%
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Oliver Bäte Chief Executive Officer
Giulio Terzariol CFO, Head-Finance, Controlling & Risk
Michael Diekmann Chairman-Supervisory Board
Barbara Karuth-Zelle Chief Operating Officer
Renate Wagner Head-Human Resources, Legal & Compliance
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