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First German 'insurtech' firm hits stock exchange

A German start-up offering online insurance policies, DFV, on Tuesday became the first so-called "insurtech" firm in Europe to make its debut on the stock exchange, setting up a growing challenge to traditional insurance giants.

DFV, which stands for Deutsche Familienversicherung or German Family Insurance, priced its initial public offering on the Frankfurt stock exchange at 12 euros ($13.7) per share.

The stock got off to a slighty weak start, falling to 11.90 euros in early trading.

Part of the booming insurtech sector, DFV is a fully digitalised insurer that uses artificial intelligence and automated tools to offer what it says are "simplified" insurance products that can be processed in real time.

Seen as one of Europe's leading insurtech players, DFV is also the first to sell its policies through Amazon's Alexa digital assistant, an area where it sees huge growth.

With its flotation DFV raised just over 52 million euros, making it one of Germany's more modest IPOs of 2018 and putting it well below the market capitalisation of companies big enough to be listed on Frankfurt's leading DAX 30 index.

But DFV and other digital insurance minnows like it are increasingly snapping at the heels of giants like Allianz who have been slower to take advantage of new technologies.

DFV said it plans to spend some of the IPO cash on marketing to further boost its online presence on sites like Google, Bing, Facebook and YouTube to attract new customers.

The proceeds will also be used to help the Frankfurt-based firm expand outside Germany.

DFV intends to take on the wider European insurance market with entries planned in 2020 in a string of countries including Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Spain.

Established in 2007, DFV reported sales of more than 70 million euros last year and employs around 100 people.

It manages a portfolio of 420,000 policies ranging from health care coverage to property damage.

"We want to triple our revenues and reach one million clients by 2023," DFV co-founder Stefan Knoll told AFP after ringing the opening bell on the trading floor.

DFV's IPO marked the 20th and final listing of the year on the Frankfurt stock exchange.

Among the year's biggest launches were Siemens Healthineers, whose IPO raised 4.2 billion euros, brake systems maker Knorr-Bremse with 3.9 billion and Deutsche Bank's asset managing unit DWS which raised 1.5 billion.

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