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Hannover upbeat on 2012

Hannover Re is looking to 2012 “with optimism” despite posting a 19.1% fall in net income in a year marred by a high number of natural disaster claims.

Despite a fourth-quarter rally in which net income rose 34.4% to €224.3 million ($278.9 million), Hannover Re was well down for the full year at €606 million ($753.6 million), joining Munich Re and Swiss Re in posting disaster-affected full-year results.

While Swiss Re’s 2011 net profit tripled its 2010 result, it came on the back of massive reserve releases and a strong result from the group’s asset management division.

Hannover Re’s update to the market largely met its February prediction of around €600 million ($746 million), which surpassed an earlier target of €500 million ($621 million).

Similar to Swiss Re, Hannover Re’s investment income soared in 2011 as the return on investment for assets under own management reached 3.9%, four percentage points above the company’s target. The reinsurer’s net investment income for the full year rose 9.9% to €1.384 billion ($1.72 billion).

“The fact that we were still able to generate a pleasing profit shows that we are moving forward towards our goal of reducing the volatility of results,” CEO Ulrich Wallin said.

While gross written premium in total business increased by 5.8% to €12.1 billion ($15 billion), group net income in both Hannover Re’s life and health and non-life branches fell by 17% and 21.6% respectively.

Hannover says the profitability of its life division was affected by the performance of deposits held by US cedants and adverse impacts in its Australian disability business.

In 2012, Hannover has anticipated gross premium growth between 5% and 7%. It has budgeted €560 million ($696.4 billion) for major losses.

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