“The acquisition of MAI is a strategic investment into a joint future.” An interview with our COO Ante Banovac
GrECo recently acquired MAI CEE. How will GrECo benefit from this acquisition?
Banovac: For us, this transaction is rather a joining of forces than an acquisition. It is a strategic investment into a joint future. Unlike private equity or other financial investors, our shareholders have a long-term outlook. Hence, our full focus is on high-quality services for our clients, being a trusted and loyal partner to them, and offering first-class specialist solutions. After thirty years of dedicated work, GrECo has become the leading independent insurance broker and risk advisor in Central Eastern and Southeastern Europe. We like to call this region our home territory. We are constantly striving to improve and strengthen our leading position by offering talented people from the region a superb platform to develop and grow. MAI is also an independent broker, traditionally rooted in CEE and SEE, just like us.
What is your impression of your new MAI colleagues?
Banovac: MAI is home to many incredibly talented and motivated people. I know this first-hand, as I have been deeply involved in making this transaction happen. Together, we will be expanding and improving the portfolio of our professional services for our clients. MAI brings valuable know-how to the table, among many other things, superb expertise in servicing international businesses, first-class international network affiliations and strong Health & Benefits and HR advisory. We are proud that MAI has decided to shape the future of risk advisory in Eastern Europe with us.
The integration process after an acquisition can be complicated and complex. How is the integration going so far?
Banovac: The integration is well on track. Colleagues from different countries have moved into our new joint offices, and our systems and operating models are being streamlined.
The challenge we need to overcome in 2023 is IT integration, as this directly impacts the daily work routine of our teams. But even here we are making good progress. Czech Republic, Slovakia, Albania, and Croatia are now fully integrated. This means that our new colleagues in these countries are already using our CRM and reporting systems GOS and MIS. This gives them a seamless experience across the organisation. We are committed to continuing this process and bringing the rest of our countries on board as quickly and efficiently as possible. We are thankful to everyone involved in this effort, and we look forward to the benefits that this integration will bring to our clients and our organisation. We will also continue focusing on our legal merger, which will be concluded by the end of 2023.
Integrating two entities also means integrating people. How is this going so far?
Banovac: This indeed is a complex undertaking. Firstly, for us joining forces is not about realising cost synergies on the back of our teams. We have promised and lived up to this from the very beginning. That is why most MAI colleagues have chosen to stay on board during the transition, which is still ongoing.
We are extending a heartfelt welcome to all colleagues willing to contribute to our joint future success and do not differentiate between colleagues working for MAI or GrECo. Consequently, several MAI colleagues have taken senior positions in our Group after certain organisational changes had been made. For example, Natalia Zaborovska took on the role as Group Head of International and Gediminas Dauksa from Lithuania has been promoted to Group Practice Leader Transportation & Logistics.
Secondly, bringing teams together is all about honest, clear communication among equals and living up to what has been promised to each other. Notwithstanding some existing differences, both our cultures are characterised by respectful communication, and openness for constructive feedback. This helps us learn from each other, grow together, and create positive team settings. We are dedicated to cultivating and developing both, young talented colleagues as well as experienced ones who can contribute to the joint future of GrECo.
Lastly, in our increasingly digitised world we use every opportunity to get together in person, spend time together and get to know each other beyond pure work-related tasks. In my opinion, this is one of the most important elements of becoming one group.
GrECo is now present in two new countries: Albania and Georgia. Could you describe GrECo’s capabilities in these markets?
Banovac: We are incredibly proud and happy to welcome two more countries and their great teams to our Group.
Few people know that MAI was the first licensed broker in Albania. Since 2008, MAI has been providing broker services for both international and domestic clients, mostly focused on property & casualty (construction, energy, oil industry, aviation, and telecommunication). As we have now combined this expertise with our risk advisory and specialty as well as our dedicated management in claims, GrECo Albania Insurance & Reinsurance Brokers will continue to provide market-leading risk and insurance advisory in Albania.
The Georgian office of MAI had been established in 2007. Over the last 15 years, MAI Georgia has become the undisputed market leader, capturing a market share of 25%. MAI Georgia is valued by clients for its fairness and outstanding service. The company has a very strong focus on reinsurance and is dominant in aviation, hospitality and complex infrastructure projects. Since early 2023, the company has been operating under the new name – GrECo Georgia Insurance and Reinsurance Brokers.
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