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SWISS RE

Swiss Re says Softbank stake no more than 10%

Swiss reinsurance giant Swiss Re said on Wednesday talks were ongoing with SoftBank, but that the Japanese group would likely take a stake of no more than 10 percent, much less than earlier expectations.

Swiss Re says Softbank stake no more than 10%
File photo: AFP

Swiss Re announced that it was in talks the tech-investor in February, but had never mentioned the size of the possible stake.

Financial news media including Bloomberg had cited sources familiar with the talks as saying the Japanese firm could take up to a third of Swiss Re for more than $10 billion (€8.2 billion).

At current share prices, a 10 percent stake in Swiss Re is worth approximately $3.5 billion.

In a statement released on Wednesday as the reinsurer holds an investor day, Swiss Re confirmed “that negotiations are still ongoing in respect of a minority investment by SoftBank in Swiss Re, currently expected not to exceed 10 percent of Swiss Re's share capital.”

The announcement of the talks had surprised investors, as SoftBank usually invests in technology ventures.

The company is making a concerted effort to invest in technology firms through its $100-billion Vision Fund investment vehicle.

Last year it bought a 15-percent stake in ride-sharing giant Uber — which sources said was worth $7.7 billion – while it also has piled cash into Uber's Chinese rival Didi Chuxing.

It is also the top investor in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

However, certain financial investors had noted that Swiss Re could be of interest to SoftBank as it has developed an expertise in new technologies to better understand the risks that firms active in the sector face.

Swiss Re shares fell 2.5 percent in early trading on Wednesday to 94.00 Swiss francs, while the Swiss market was down 0.3 percent overall.

INSURANCE

Natural disaster losses fall in 2014: Swiss Re

Extreme weather and other natural and man-made disasters caused $113 billion (90.6 billion euros) in economic losses in 2014, reinsurer Swiss Re said Wednesday.

Natural disaster losses fall in 2014: Swiss Re
Swiss Re headquarters in Zurich. Photo: Swiss Re

This is 16 percent less than the $135 billion in losses recorded in 2013 and significantly below the average annual figure of $188 billion for the previous ten years.
   
Insurers covered $34 billion of the damage, down 24 percent from $45 billion in 2013, the company said.
   
About 11,000 people lost their lives from disaster events, down from more than 27,000 fatalities recorded last year.
   
Of the total economic losses recorded up to November 28th, the bulk — $106 billion of the $113 billion total — was caused by natural catastrophes such as extreme weather.
   
The storms in the United States in early 2014 alone caused insured losses of $1.7 billion, while a spate of storms across the country in May cost another $2.9 billion.
   
Strong winds and heavy rains in Mexico brought by Hurricane Odile caused insured losses of $1.6 billion, while a wind and hail storm that struck parts of France, Germany and Belgium in June cost $2.7 billion.
   
Elsewhere, Swiss Re said it was too early to assess the losses caused by the dry summer in parts of China, which have affected agricultural output.
   
Likewise, it had no figures for the economic damage wrought by Typhoon Hagupit on the Philippines earlier this month, but said early estimates indicate it will be less than that caused by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

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