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German auditor insurance pool fights cartel action


WIESBADEN, Germany— The insurance pool for German auditors and tax advisers has told Business Insurance Europe that it will strongly resist efforts by the national cartel office to force it to exit the market for all but the so-called big four firms at the end of 2008.

A spokesman for the Versicherungstelle Wiesbaden, based in Wiesbaden, Germany, said that the decision by the Kartellamt earlier this week to prohibit the pool from writing insurance for the bulk of smaller and independent auditors and tax advisers in two years time was "absurd."

He also said that the pool, which is backed by Allianz S.E., AXA Konzern — a unit of AXA S.A., Victoria Versicherung A.G. and R + V Versicherung, and has been operational for 70 years, has already commenced legal proceedings in the Dusseldorf commercial court to overturn the Kartellamt decision.

The Kartellamt said that it acted because the pool has a share of greater than 20% in this market of about 750 companies and more than 20,000 individuals, and so breaks European cartel rules.

It is also thought that the Kartellamt is concerned about sharply rising rates in this market in recent years.

The pool spokesman said that the Kartellamt had made a "mistake" with its calculation of market share, that it was difficult to understand how it could be expected to stop writing all but the big four accounting firm's liability business. He said the pool that had the backing of the accounting profession and that he was confident that the decision would be repealed once the facts had been properly reviewed.

A spokesman for the WirtschaftsprueferKammer, the German accounting profession's professional institute, confirmed that both it and the industry association the Institut der Wirtschaftsprufer in Deuthschland e.V. support the pool's resistance.