Canadian Underwriter

Swiss Re posts Cdn$96 million loss on investment slide

March 27, 2003   by Canadian Underwriter

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Despite premium growth of 15% last year, Swiss Re Group posted a net loss for the second year in a row, this time of CHF91 million (Cdn$96.44 million). For 2001, the group posted a loss of CHF165 million (Cdn$175 million), impacted by losses related to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The world’s second largest reinsurer says stock market woes are largely to blame for the loss, facing impairment charges, largely on equities, of CHF3.9 billion (Cdn$4.13 billion). In response, the company has lowered it equities exposure and reducing its investment returns target to 5%.
On the upside, premiums were strong, specifically in the non-life reinsurance sector, where the group was able to achieve its target of 104% combined ratio. Earned premiums rose to CHF15.1 billion (Cdn$15.97 billion), up 9% over 2001. And operating income excluding capital gains was CHF920 million (Cdn$973 million), a dramatic increase over a loss of CHF1.6 billion (Cdn$1.69 billion), largely affected by September 11 losses, in 2001. “Swiss Re believes the hard market will be sustained for a number of years and with continued rigorous underwriting discipline and management of costs, the combined ratio will be further reduced,” states a press release. The target for 2003 is 100%, with a goal of 98% average between 2003-2005.
In the life & health sector, operating revenues rose 20% year-on-year to CHF14.7 billion (Cdn$15.55 billion), and operating results were up 15% to CHF1.34 billion (Cdn$1.42 billion). And in the financial services sector, net premiums were up 11% year-on-year to CHF2.7 billion (Cdn$2.86 billion), but results were strongly impacted by weakened investment markets, U.S. surety losses and prior year claims on large corporate accounts. Overall this division saw a loss of CHF633 million (Cdn$669 million), although still an improvement on the loss of CHF932 million (Cdn$986 million) reported in 2001.
The group’s board is recommending a reduced dividend of CHF1.00 (Cdn$1.06) per share.

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