Swiss Re on Friday said it was still in discussions with SoftBank (9984.T) about the Japanese group potentially taking a stake in the reinsurer but that a deal was not a sure thing.
“We continue to be in discussions with SoftBank,” John Dacey, Swiss Re’s chief financial officer, told reporters on a call. But there is “no clear indication that they will result in a completed transaction.”
Dacey said that Swiss Re would welcome an important long-term shareholder. “But we don’t feel that we need one,” he said. “We want to be sure we are treating existing shareholders fairly.”
The finance chief also said that Swiss Re wasn’t speaking exclusively to SoftBank. “We aren’t exclusive to SoftBank in the sense that we talk to many large groups that might have interesting views on the future of risks and opportunities,” he said.
Swiss Re said last month that Japan’s SoftBank is in talks to buy a stake in Swiss Re that is unlikely to exceed 10 percent.
Friday’s statements on SoftBank came as Swiss Re posted a better-than-expected net profit in the first quarter, although it was still down from a year ago amid continuing pressure on reinsurance prices.
Net profit was $457 million, down 30 percent from $656 million a year earlier. But it was above expectations of $447 million forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll.
The world’s second-biggest reinsurer earned more in the first quarter than it did in the whole of last year, when it took a severe hit from a spate of natural disasters in North America.
“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,” Chief Executive Christian Mumenthaler said.
Gross written premiums were up 13.1 percent in the quarter, at $11.5 billion, better than the $10.6 billion expected by analysts and above $10.2 billion a year ago.