Swiss Re’s excellent results for the first half of 2004 is additional evidence that 2004 promises to be a banner year for industry bottom lines. The Zurich-based reinsurer announced that its net income during the period doubled to CHF 1.4 billion ($1.1 billion) compared to CHF 691 million ($544 million) in the same period last year.
Despite a 2 percent decline in earned premium revenues to CHF 14.1 billion ($11.1 billion) during the period, Swiss Re continued to profit from a more selective underwriting posture, a relatively benign first half as far as natural catastrophes were concerned and a healthy return on investments of 5.8 percent.
The world’s second largest reinsurer saw improved results in all of its business groups. Return on equity for the period was a strong 15.6 percent; shareholders’ equity increased to CHF 19.4 billion ($15.28 billion) from CHF 18.5 billion ($14.56 billion) at the end of 2003. “Swiss Re is on track to deliver strong results in 2004, building on its performance in the first half year,” noted CEO John Coomber.
The company’s P/C Business Group’s operating income grew 79 percent to CHF 1.5 billion ($1.18 billion), while its combined ratio improved 3.7 percentage points to 96.1 percent. P/C premiums earned declined 4 percent to CHF 7.5 billion ($5.9 billion) “due to fewer non-traditional transactions.”
The bulletin said it “remains optimistic about market fundamentals and is committed to delivering improved profitability. While the investment performance of the first half year may not be repeated in the second half, Swiss Re continues to expect good results for the full year 2004.”
Swiss Re also announced that Jacques Aigrain has been named Deputy CEO of Swiss Re Group, succeeding Rudolf Kellenberger, effective January 1, 2005. The announcement noted that “Kellenberger joined Swiss Re in 1978. In his successful career he headed Swiss Re’s engineering department, was instrumental in establishing the Division Europe of the Property & Casualty Business Group and has held the position of Deputy CEO since 2000.” He plans to retire in early 2005.
“Mr. Aigrain will combine his new responsibilities with his current role as Head of the Financial Services Business Group. He joined Swiss Re in 2001 and has led the profitable growth of the Financial Services Business Group,” the bulletin continued.
Swiss Re plans to hold a media conferecne this morning, followed by an Analysts’ meeting at 15.00 CEST, 14.00 BST in London. Dial-in facilities are also available for the Analysts’ meeting. For more information on both conferences please visit www.swissre.com.