Swiss Re income boosted by "absence of natural catastrophes" as it appoints Christian Mumenthaler to replace Michel Liès as chief executive

Emma Haslett
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Swiss Re is headquartered in the Gherkin, which was previously named after it (Source: Getty)

Swiss Re, the insurance giant after which the Gherkin was once named, said today that has appointed a new chief executive.

The company said Christian Mumenthaler, currently head of its reinsurance division, will step up to the plate on 1 July, after current boss Michel Liès said he was planning on retiring.

The news came Swiss Re said it had benefited in 2015 from the "absence of major natural catastrophes", with group net income rising 31 per cent to $4.6bn (£3.3bn), up from $3.5bn in 2014. Earnings per share rose to $13.44, up from $10.23 last year.

Premiums earned and fee income dropped to $30.2bn, from $31.3bn in 2014, which it attributed to unfavourable foreign exchange movements.

That didn't prevent the company from hiking dividends to 8.2 per cent to SFr4.60 per share, up from SFr4.25 in 2014.

It also unveiled a renewed SFr1bn share buyback programme, on top of the SFr1bn programme it already has in place. The company said so far, it had bought SFr900m (£641.1m) shares under that programme.

Liès said: "We have delivered a strong performance based on our underwriting discipline over the past five years and end this period with one of our highest-ever profits.

"We maintained a strong capital position, increased the regular dividends with earnings and launched a share buy-back programme. At the same time we broadened the offering of the services we can bring to our clients."

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