Natural disasters batter Munich Re's Q1 profits

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Berlin (AFP)

German reinsurance giant Munich Re announced Wednesday net profits down nearly 25 percent for the first quarter of 2019 after natural disasters battered the bottom line.

Top of the list was September's Typhoon Jebi, the most powerful storm to strike Japan in a quarter of a century that claimed 11 lives.

Jebi accounted for 267 million euros ($299 million) in a total of 479 million euros of "major losses" claims Munich Re paid out in early 2019.

That was a huge increase compared to the 62 million euros paid out in the final quarter of last year.

From January to March, the Munich-based company, whose core business is to cover insurers against risks, posted a net profit of 633 million euros, down from 827 million euros a year before but beating analysts' forecasts.

Its direct insurance group Ergo brand posted a slight increase in profit to 85 million euros, after taking a hit due to the violent Storm Eberhard that caused havoc across Germany and northern France in March.

The group's operating profit amounted to 875 million euros, down by nearly a third year-on-year, on gross premiums written -- the equivalent of revenue at insurance firms -- up 1.9 percent at 13.4 billion euros.

Looking ahead to the full year, Munich Re aims for a net profit of around 2.5 billion euros, compared with 2.3 billion in 2018.