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BROKER NETWORK EXPANDING REACH

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Belgium's largest insurance brokerage, J. Van Breda & Co., has joined the Luxembourg-based international brokerage network Funk Diot GrECo, or FDG.

Membership in FDG will give Breda, a specialist in placing coverage for multinational organizations like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United Nations, greater access to international business.

FDG's addition of Breda means the network's members together now represent more than 1,350 employees, 45 office locations in 14 European countries and combined net commission/fee income of $200 million.

The three original partners-Funk Group GmbH, Diot S.A. and Gregor Eggers & Co. A.G.-are leading brokers in France and Austria, with partners in 72 countries worldwide.

Effective Jan. 1, Breda will assume a special role in promoting FDG's European employee benefit business, according to Funk Group Chief Executive Officer Leberecht Funk. Breda also will manage FDG's expansion into benefits and other industrial insurance business in the Netherlands.

FDG will continue its focus on international corporate risks, with particular emphasis on building construction insurance business. "The group plans to step up its specialty and risk management consulting service with information collected through the network," Mr. Funk said.

Networking provides a global dimension to data, which brokers must pass on to their clients to remain competitive, he said.

Mr. Funk expects further expansion in Eastern Europe. In November, FDG opened an office in Zagreb, Croatia, under the name Funk Diot GrECo Zagreb D.O.O., which is the first international broker registered in Croatia.

FDG expects growth of industrial insurance business in the war-torn region as rebuilding begins. "FDG Zagreb will have excellent opportunity to grow with the expected inflow of investment and liberalization of the insurance market," Mr. Funk said.

FDG has traditional cooperation agreements with brokers in Europe, North America and Asia. The Austrian GrECo arm of the broker network has been active in expansion into the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Funk GmbH's central offices are in Hamburg, while Diot S.A. is in Paris and GrECo is based in Vienna. Each of the original partners have a share in FDG's Luxembourg-based holding company. Although Mr. Funk said Breda also will hold a substantial ownership stake in the network, the exact holding has not been disclosed. Some 25% of each broker's capital will eventually flow into the FDG.

The FDG network was launched July 1994. About 95% of FDG's business is commercial retail brokerage. Since 1994, the network has widened its focus on midsize corporate clients to large multinational corporations.

FDG commission/fee income figures do not include all FDG associated brokers, which are part of the network but not shareholders in the Luxembourg-based holding company.