German finance giant Allianz nearly doubled its net earnings in 2005 on the back of strong demand for retirement products and asset management services. However performance at its banking unit was slightly below par.

Net profit for the Munich-based group came in at E4.4 billion, while operating profit was up by 13.2% on last year to reach E7.7 billion.

The demand for retirement provision and asset management products was, once again, the growth driver worldwide, said Michael Diekmann, CEO of Allianz. We are rigorously streamlining our structures in Europe, we are slimming them down and making them more efficient in order to accelerate our profitable growth.

Analysts polled by Reuters argued that the Dresdner Bank operation continued to prove somewhat disappointing, and Reuters reports concerns that it may not meet its targets for 2006. Allianz bought Dresdner for E24 billion in 2001, but there is a feeling that the operation has not delivered the hoped-for results.

Elsewhere, Allianz is overhauling its corporate structure to achieve Societas Europaea status. This will occur once it has fully acquired its Italian insurance arm RAS. The move is aimed at simplifying the group’s sprawling operations.

We are increasingly evolving into a company that deploys the strengths of an international group in an even more focused manner. Our growth initiatives have provided us with a decisive competitive advantage on which we shall continue to build in 2006, said Mr Diekmann.