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Swiss Re CFO highlights big GWP increase in April treaty business

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Swiss Re CFO highlights big GWP increase in April treaty business

recordedsignificant increases in gross written premiums in some lines of business inApril, according to the reinsurer's CFO, David Cole.

"Approximately10% of [Property & Casualty Reinsurance]'s treaty portfolio is up forrenewal in April," Cole told analysts on April 29 following Swiss Re'squarterly results announcement. "Year-to-date, we saw a significantincrease in the treaty gross premium volume, entirely driven by the successfulclosing of large and tailored transactions."

Treatyreinsurance refers to standing agreements between reinsured and reinsurer forthe cession and assumption of certain defined risks. Facultative reinsurance,in contrast, allows reinsured and reinsurer to accept or refuse business on acase-by-case basis.

TheCFO added that price erosion for property business is slowing and casualtymarkets remained "relatively stable."

"Wefully utilized our unique client relationships, expert knowledge and superiorfinancial strength to close large and tailored transactions at attractiverates," Cole explained. "This strategy allows us to profitably growour book of business in a challenging market environment. The quarter benefitedfrom the absence of large [natural catastrophes], partially offset by someunfavorable prior-year developments, mainly related to the 2010 and 2011 NewZealand earthquakes and asbestos."

SwissRe bookedfirst-quarter net income attributable to common shareholders of $1.23 billion,down from $1.44 billion a year ago, as the net investment result fromunit-linked and with-profit business fell to $405 million from $1.44 billion.

"Thoughslightly down versus last year, the ROI still reflects a very good performancein the current environment and was primarily driven by the net investmentincome and realized gains from sales of fixed-income securities," Colesaid. "Realized losses from impairments remain low when compared to ouroverall investment result."

Grosspremiums written came to $11.40 billion, up from $10.08 billion in the firstquarter of 2015.

Claimsand claim adjustment expenses came to $2.87 billion, up from $2.44 billion inthe first quarter of 2015. Return credited to policyholders cost Swiss Re $350million, down from $1.45 billion in the year-ago period.

Property& Casualty Reinsurance booked a combined ratio of 93.3% for the firstquarter, compared to 84.3% in the prior-year period. The increase was mainlydriven by adverse prior-year development in 2016, compared to reserve releasesin the first quarter of 2015, along with a continued softening of the market.

KamranHossain, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note to investorsfollowing Swiss Re's results announcement that this could be an area of concern."After a number ofperiods of positive reserve development, we are now becoming increasinglyconcerned about whether Swiss Re's expansion into certain longer tail lines ofbusiness (given the negative reserve development) was a sensiblestrategy," he wrote.

Hossainalso warned that investors hoping for a quick payout from the company could bedisappointed. "Swiss Re increased its top line across all businesses with13% growth in P&C Reinsurance, 9.8% in [life & health] reinsurance,17.5% in Corporate Solutions and 14.4% at Admin Re," he wrote. "Webelieve that this is a clear signal that management would like to deploy theSwiss Re excess capital rather than return it to shareholders."