An old icon of ‘Belgianism’, the 127-year-old Royal Touring Club of Belgium is being sold to insurance company AG (75%) and Belgian’s biggest bank company BNP Paribas Fortis (25%). How much money is involved in the transaction is not specified. However, it allows Touring to continue road assistance and other activities in a world where mobility is evolving rapidly.
Touring and its new investors were already partners for a while. People who have their car insured by AG can use Touring mobility services, and BNP Paribas Fortis offers travel insurance solutions from Touring. The three partners already closed a strategic partnership in the search for mobility solutions a few years ago.
Changing mobility habits
The energy transition and the changing mobility habits of the Belgians have forced Touring to look for new financial means. Naturally, they don’t want to let go of road assistance, but they have to readapt it to the modern needs of their more and more electrically driving customers, and for this, huge investments are needed.
“A growing number of people drives electrically,” says Touring president Thierry Willemarck. “Road assistance services have to adapt, for example, by providing supercharging boosters on the road and many new digital services. But, unfortunately, this costs a lot of money.”
Touring is known for its road assistance in the first place. Still, it also offers a service for broken car windows (Touring Autoglass), operates technical control centers for cars, and offers travel insurance services. Touring is also a partner in Optimile, a company specializing in charging points software.
The deal is not so simple because Touring exists of two companies, the initial non-profit organization Royal Touring Club of Belgium Touring vzw and NV Touring, a limited liability company. The first is running the road assistance, the car glass company, and Optimile; the latter is occupied with running the technical control centers.
Many people working for the vzw will be transferred to the NV in the new scheme. “The vzw will survive but will only count some ten employees anymore,” says Willemarck. “But our aim is unchanged: defending the interests of the Belgian road users.”
The ‘Touring Club de Belgique’ was founded in 1895 as a club of cyclists. After the second world war, it became the defender of the interests of all car and road users. The group totals some 680 000 roadside assistance interventions annually, and with all activities added, it employs some 1 300 people. Now it has to adapt to the new evolutions in the mobility of people.
“We needed the means to follow up the mobility (r)evolution,” says Touring communication director Joost Kaesemans. “AG Insurance was interested in having their own road assistance service. We will persist in offering as much assistance as possible on the roadside, it’s our strength, and our customers like it. But the electrification era will also push us toward prevention through maintenance. Larger financial groups have already taken over all our competitors; we had to do the same to survive and be prepared for the future.”