Swiss Re’s P&C unit reported a 7.5 percent year-on-year bump in net income for the first quarter to $345mn as underwriting returns improved helped by low catastrophe losses.

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The division’s combined ratio improved by 3.6 points in the period down to 92 percent, which the company said was helped slightly by modest positive reserve development as well as low large loss experience.

That translated into an RoE of 13.5 percent, up from 10 percent this time last year. Gross written premiums (GWP) also increased in the quarter.

Speaking on a media call after the results were released this morning, chief financial officer John Dacey said the P&C unit had secured price increases of around 2 percent at the busy, Japan-dominated, April renewal season, which he said was broadly in line with what had been seen at the beginning of the year.

Meanwhile the firm’s primary insurance Corporate Solutions unit fell to an underwriting loss for the period, as its combined ratio tipped into the red from 99.6 percent last year to 100.2 percent, while net income fell from $55mn to $41mn.

The Corporate Solutions top line was up 32.3 percent at $914mn excluding fronting business for its own reinsurance unit, which Swiss Re said was due to business growth across most regions and business lines.

Questioned on the negative underwriting performance, Dacey said that the Corporate Solutions unit was set to benefit from rising prices in the primary market and should improve its performance throughout the year.

The CFO however remained coy on any potential investment in the firm by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank. While confirming that conversations about a potential deal remain ongoing, he cautioned there was no guarantee that any transaction would eventually take place.

At a group level Swiss Re’s net income fell from $656mn to $457mn, which was heavily impacted by changes to the US tax code which forced the company to take a $280mn charge in the quarter.

Overall this dealt a 1.9 point hit to RoE, which came in at 5.6 percent in the first three months of the year.

Swiss Re group CEO Christian Mumenthaler commented: “We delivered a solid set of results across the board in the first quarter of 2018, as we maintained our underwriting discipline while expanding in an improving, yet still challenging, (re)insurance pricing environment.”