General insurer Uniqa Group Austria has increased its shareholding in insurance provider Astra by acquiring a further 23% stake in the group from Nova Trade, bringing its total quota to 50% plus one share. This move also reflects the group's commitment to the Romanian insurance market.

Uniqa acquired its first share in Astra in 2005, when it began co-operating with the local Raiffeisenbank and the sale of selected insurance products by its branches. At the same time, Uniqa secured the option of acquiring further shares from Nova Trade, the previous majority shareholder, in the medium term.

Konstantin Klien, chairman of the board of Uniqa Versicherungen, commented: It is precisely in fast-growing markets such as Romania that the co-operation between banks and insurance companies is a prerequisite for qualitative expansion. Uniqa has always viewed the connection to Raiffeisen and the experience in bank sales as an important asset and has brought these views to Astra from the very beginning.

The transaction is subject to the approval of the local authorities. In accordance with the local legal requirements, Uniqa will make the small shareholders of the listed company, Astra, a compulsory offer.