Swiss Re Takes Hit in Trading As Reinsurance Prices Fall

January 3, 2014 by Carolyn Bandel

Swiss Re Ltd., the world’s second-biggest reinsurer, fell the most in six months in Zurich trading after Willis Re said reinsurance prices slid by as much as 25 percent in the Jan. 1 renewals round.

Swiss Re declined as much as 2.9 percent to 79.70 Swiss francs, the biggest loss since July 2 and valuing the company at 29.6 billion francs ($32.9 billion). That was the worst performance on the Bloomberg Europe 500 Insurance Index. The shares decreased 2.8 percent by 12:27 p.m.

A “cocktail of converging factors,” including too much excess reinsurance capital, has fueled a soft buyers’ market with dropping prices, Willis Re, the reinsurance brokerage of Willis Group Holdings Plc, said in an e-mailed report two days ago.

Munich Re, the world’s biggest re-insurer, fell 0.8 percent and Hannover Re lost 0.1 percent. Reinsurers typically renew about two-thirds of their annual property and casualty contracts in January.

The outcome of the renewals round is worse than expected, Daniel Bischof, a Zurich-based analyst with Helvea AG, said in a note to investors.

–Editors: Mark Bentley, Steve Bailey