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FRANKFURT: Swiss Re's first-half net profit fell 5.3%, as claims relating to the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the subsequent grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX, plus natural catastrophes took their toll.

The world's second-largest reinsurance company highlighted claims from last year's typhoon Jebi in Asia, storm losses in Australia, and claims from the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March.

There were also claims relating to the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX fleet that followed the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

Swiss Re said there were no plans to revive a listing of British life insurer ReAssure in the second half of this year after its $4.1 billion initial public offering was shelved earlier in July.

But the company said on Wednesday that it would look again at the issue in the future.

Net profit came in at $953 million, down from $1 billion a year earlier, but better than analysts' expectations of $848 million, according to Reuters calculations and data from Refinitiv.

Swiss Re's shares were 0.7% higher by 1105 GMT, outperforming the broader Swiss market.

The Zurich-based company's combined ratio in its property and casualty division, a key measure of profitability, was 100.5% in the first half, versus 92.9% a year earlier. Readings below 100 indicate profitability, and the company said it expected the division's ratio to be about 98% this year.

The corporate insurance arm reported a net loss of $403 million, swinging from a profit of $58 million a year ago. Swiss Re said it was reducing risk at the business and expected it to be profitable in 2021.

Swiss Re plans to exit certain areas of business, such as insurance for the film industry. It will also significantly reduce its exposure to the space industry and US liability insurance.

"We are confident that the measures we are taking in corporate solutions will return the business to underwriting profitability," Swiss Re Chief Executive Christian Mumenthaler said.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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