Qatar Re profits leap amid rapid expansion
Bermudian-headquartered Qatar Re is reaping the benefits of investing last year to grow its business.
During the first six months of 2016 it achieved a string of improved results, including a 79 per cent jump in half-year profit to $23.9 million.
The reinsurer opened a branch office in Bermuda in 2013 and completed its redomiciling to the island from Doha in 2015.
It has its offices on Pitts Bay Road and will soon occupy a penthouse office in the new Belvedere Apartments complex, also on Pitts Bay Road.
In a half-year report, the reinsurer said gross written premiums were $654 million, a rise of 41 per cent year-on-year.
The company's combined ratio has fallen to 95.8 per cent, two percentage points lower than the corresponding period in 2015.
However, Qatar Re acknowledged in a statement that its underwriting performance “is not immune to fierce and increasingly irresponsible price competition in global reinsurance markets”.
It also saw its net loss ratio rise from 63.3 per cent to 71.7 per cent, in part due to above-average global catastrophe activity in the second quarter.
The company said it more than offset the jump in the net loss ratio increase by halving its administrative expense ratio, based on net premiums earned, to 15.9 per cent. This reflected the positive impact of “some exceptional investment cost” made in the first half of 2015 that enabled the business to grow.
The reinsurer saw its net investment income rise to $17 million from $11.5 million, driven mainly by fixed-income securities and short-term deposits.
Gunther Saacke, chief executive officer, said: “Our 2016 half-year financial results testify to Qatar Re's robust positioning in an environment of continued economic volatility and reinsurance market softness, exacerbated by above-average global catastrophe losses in the second quarter.
“Qatar Re's relative resilience reflects the increasing depth and diversification of our portfolio, with earnings from past years now coming through.
“Our franchise continues to grow on the back of our status as a Bermuda Class 4 re/insurer and distinct strengths such as a class intimacy, proximity to our business partners and risk management excellence. These capabilities enable us to expand our book of business without tracking the market.
“In addition, we have benefited from economies of scale, yielding a significant reduction of our administrative expense ratio.”
The company cedes 70 per cent of its business via a quota share agreement to its parent Qatar Insurance Company.
In a statement, Qatar Re said it had established new major client relationships, and in the European Union “Qatar Re benefited from specific project-based opportunities with clients seeking capital relief in order to comply with Solvency II requirements”.
At the end of June, Qatar Re's shareholders' equity was $560.9 million, almost double the amount from the corresponding period in 2015. The company's capital base is supported by QIC's shareholders' equity of $2.2 billion, and its market capitalisation of $5.4 billion.
Presenting an outlook for the remainder of the year, Qatar Re said it would continue to deepen its book of business and also intends to open a branch in Singapore. Qatar Re has branch offices in Zurich and the Dubai International Financial Centre.
Mr Saacke said: “We have every reason to believe that Qatar Re's franchise, supported by its clients and in house talent, will continue to grow.
“Our increasingly robust global operating platform will enable a further organic portfolio expansion. Having said this, despite signs of a certain bottoming out of global reinsurance markets, trading conditions will remain challenging.
“Niches of profitable growth continue to exist, but are harder to come by. Therefore, we anticipate and indeed will proactively ensure that the pace of Qatar Re's expansion will moderate going forward.”