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Reinsurer Scor sees profit rise 35% amid low disaster claims


(Reuters) — French reinsurer Scor S.E. posted on Thursday a 35.4% increase in first-half net profit as its property/casualty business benefited from a low level of major catastrophes.

The company said net profit reached €256 million ($343.8 million) in the first half as gross written premiums rose 12.5% at constant exchange rates to €5.43 billion ($7.29 billion).

Scor saw "healthy" renewals of property and casualty contracts while its global life unit won important new business, it said in a statement. Premiums were also boosted by the purchase of Generali U.S. Life Re last year.

"We're seeing an improvement in our general business ... in the context of low level of catastrophes," Chief Executive Denis Kessler told journalists on a conference call.

Mr. Kessler said Scor's diversification had helped limit the impact of tariff decreases that insurers have been extracting from reinsurers recently, especially in the United States.

Similarly, diversification helped minimize the impact of record low interest rates in the euro zone with the majority of Scor's assets in dollars or pounds, currencies benefitting from stronger economic fundamentals, Mr. Kessler said.

He estimated that the group faced claims of a combined €25 million to €35 million ($33.6 million to $47.0 million) from the crashes this month of an Air Algerie flight in Mali and a Malaysian Airlines airplane in Ukraine as well as an attack on Tripoli's airport in which more than a dozen planes have been damaged.

"The three disasters are in our jargon nonmaterial — that is to say, they won't disturb the group's profitability in the third quarter," Mr. Kessler added.