Atlas Magazine January 2006

2005, a paradoxical year

Year of all records in terms of disasters, 2005 is, paradoxically, perceived as both a nice raw and a promise of substantial profits for some of the market's major stakeholders.

Munich Re, for instance, which, despite the heavy losses due to natural catastrophes, is reporting a 12% record profitability on its equity. Such performance is likely to overshadow the world reinsurer's loss of its number one position which it held ever since its foundation 125 years ago.

Equally hit by the 2005 exceptional catastrophes, Swiss Re has had the luxury of buying out the American General Electric Solutions and jump to the rank of world reinsurance leader.

As to Scor which bought out the portfolio of Bermudan Alea, it has witnessed its rating climbing from BBB+ to A-. Scor, the former pray has now turned into a predator.

Reinsurance remains, by and large, appealing. Capitals continue to flow in Bermuda. In the Middle East, investors are tabling on Takaful reinsurance niche, while direct companies are settling on the Saudi market labelled as the region's new Eldorado.

In Africa, the knock-out of the weakest companies is carried out most often in conformity with the law. The capital increase imposed by the authorities being prohibitive, has driven some companies out of business, as was the case in Nigeria in 2005.

Some have decidedly made the best of the crisis, while others have suffered and are poised to convulse in even further trouble in 2006.

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