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Reinsurers predict soft landing for tumbling prices


MONTE CARLO, Monaco — Reinsurers expect to see the end of sharp price decreases for reinsurance soon as they continue to look to expand their business.

Growth opportunities may be found in emerging markets but some of the largest emerging economies are facing challenges, an analyst warned.

“What we expect is a soft landing of the softening” in declines in the reinsurance market, said Victor Peignet, CEO of Scor Global P&C S.E., a unit of Paris-based reinsurer Scor S.E. He was speaking at a panel session at the Rendez-Vous de Septembre reinsurance meeting in Monte Carlo, Monaco, on Sunday.

Mr. Peignet's sentiments were echoed by Nicolas Papadopoulo, CEO of the reinsurance group at Arch Capital Group Ltd. in Bermuda.

“I think the rates in the market will continue to soften, and we will come to a soft landing,” said Mr. Papadopoulos.

There is evidence that pricing declines are slowing, said Tom Bolt, director of performance management at Lloyd's of London.

“The rate of decreases in pricing was not as severe as people expected for the renewals that happened in June in Florida,” he said. “That's the first sign we've seen in terms of things sort of moderating in terms of price decreases.”

Despite the declines there are opportunities for growth, particularly in emerging markets, the panelists said.

Developed markets account for some 75% of global gross domestic product, but some sources suggest that emerging markets will account for 75% of global GDP by 2025, Mr. Bolt said.

“We would like to go where the money is; we'd like to go where the business is,” he said, referring to capturing business as developing markets mature and require more reinsurance capacity.

Moritz Kraemer, chief rating officer for sovereign ratings at Standard & Poor's Ratings Services Inc. in Frankfurt, Germany, however, pointed out that many emerging markets, such as China and Brazil, have experienced slowing growth in their economies.

“We're looking at slower growth in Asia. We're certainly looking at slower growth in Latin America,” said Mr. Kraemer.

“We expect Brazil to decline 2% this year. In Asia, we see a discernable slowdown in a large number of countries,” he added.

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