Large claims hit Swiss Re first-quarter profit; co to launch $981 million buyback

Large claims hit Swiss Re first-quarter profit; co to launch $981 million buyback
FILE PHOTO: The logo of insurance company Swiss Re is seen in front of its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd WIegmann -
Arnd Wiegmann(Reuters)
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ZURICH (Reuters) - Reinsurer Swiss Re AG's first-quarter net profit fell 6.1 percent to $429 million (£329.1 million) as claims from large losses offset a 5.5 percent rise in net premiums, it said on Friday.

The market consensus compiled by the global insurance and reinsurance giant was for net profit of $657 million.

Claims from large natural catastrophes and man-made losses included the North Queensland floods in Australia, Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the subsequent grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX fleet, it said in a statement.

Late claims from prior-year events, mainly from Typhoon Jebi, also weighed, it added.

The first tranche of a share buyback programme worth up to 1 billion Swiss francs ($980.7 million) would launch on May 6, the company said.

"Based on the successful year-to-date renewals, we remain optimistic for P&C (property and casualty) Re, while L&H (life and health) Re continues to perform strongly. In Life Capital, we are focusing on preparing the potential IPO of ReAssure in 2019," Chief Executive Christian Mumenthaler said.

Swiss Re has been exploring a 2019 listing in Britain of its UK closed book business ReAssure.

But he said the corporate solutions segment continued to present challenges, and the group was taking measures to address performance issues.

"In this context, we are conducting a thorough review of the business unit, led by the new Corporate Solutions CEO Andreas Berger, which will be completed in the second quarter."

(Reporting by Michael Shields; editing by Riham Alkousaa and Rashmi Aich)

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