March 13, 2012 / 8:04 AM / in 6 years

Munich Re eyes limited 2012 hit from Greece

MUNICH (Reuters) - The Greek bond swap will cause only a small dent to Munich Re’s (MUVGn.DE) earnings, with the German reinsurer seeing 2012 net profit more than tripling to 2.5 billion euros ($3.3 billion).

“The Greek debt restructuring and bond exchange will at most lead to relatively low expenses in 2012,” the world’s biggest reinsurer said on Tuesday, adding it took a total of 1.2 billion euros in writedowns on Greek government bonds last year.

Greece swapped its privately held bonds at the weekend for new, longer-maturity paper with less than half the nominal value, a move that cut its debt by more than 100 billion euros.

Munich Re, which competes with Swiss Re SRENH.VX and Hannover Re (HNRGn.DE), also said it expected earnings to grow further in 2013.

The company has already released its headline financial results for 2011 on February 2, including net profit and expected dividend.

Last year was exceptionally costly for the insurance industry, with earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand as well as a hurricane strike in the United States prompting billions of euros in damage payouts.

Financial market uncertainty linked to the euro zone debt crisis has also taken its toll on investment income and Munich Re said the pressure on investments would continue this year.

    “For 2012, Munich Re does not anticipate any rapid or significant rise in capital market interest rates, so regular income from investments is likely to be lower,” it said.

    Munich Re shares, up 0.8 percent in pre-market trade, have fallen 7 percent through the past year, while Swiss Re and Hannover Re shares have risen by about 7 percent.

    Data from StarMine, which weights analyst forecasts according to their track record, showed Munich Re trading at 7.8 times 12-month forward earnings, a discount to Swiss Re’s multiple of 8.7 but a slight premium to Hannover Re at 7.5.

    ($1 = 0.7610 euros)

    Reporting by Christian Kraemer and Jonathan Gould; Editing by David Holmes

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