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Berkshire reinsurance unit rebounds in 2nd quarter

Berkshire reinsurance unit rebounds in 2nd quarter

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group rebounded to a $184 million underwriting gain in the second quarter 2016 from a $411 million underwriting loss a year earlier, Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. reported Friday.

The gains reflected improvement in the reinsurer's retroactive business and a reduction in losses in its life and annuity business. Earned premiums for the reinsurance unit for the second quarter of 2016 dropped 16.5% from those a year earlier, to $1.65 billion, while earned premiums for the first six months of the year rose 13.7%, to $3.90 billion, from the 2015 period, the company reported Friday.

In a management discussion in the quarterly report of corporate results filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Berkshire Hathaway noted that the unit posted $158 million in foreign currency gains during the second quarter, compared to a loss of $152 million a year earlier. For the first six months of the year, the reinsurance group posted an underwriting gain of $105 million, up 118.8% from a year earlier.

Pretax earnings including investment income for Berkshire Hathaway's insurance group, which includes General Reinsurance Corp., Berkshire Hathaway Primacy Group and personal lines insurer GEICO as well as Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group, rose 35.7% from that of second quarter 2015, to $1.75 billion. For the first six months of the year, the insurance group's pretax earnings rose 3.7%, to $3.24 billion.

Among other individual insurance units, General Re posted an underwriting gain of $2 million in the second quarter, down from a $107 million gain in the year-earlier period. General Re earned premiums dropped 7.0% in the second quarter from the corresponding period a year earlier, to $1.39 billion, and 7.1% in the first six months, to $2.78 billion.

“Our premium volume declined in both the direct and broker markets,” said the company in the management discussion of results. “Insurance industry capacity remains high and price competition in most property/casualty reinsurance markets persists. We continue to decline business when we believe prices are inadequate. However, we remain prepared to write substantially more business when more appropriate prices can be obtained.”

Underwriting gains for Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group, which includes numerous independently managed insurers, including National Indemnity Co., dropped 14.3% in the second quarter, to $174 million, and 22.0% for the first six months, to $295 million. Berkshire Hathaway did not report second quarter earned premiums for the group, but said they rose 17.1% for the group, to $2.95 billion, in the first half of this year.



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