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Asian reinsurers overtake Everest Re and Transatlantic Re

Two Asian entrants broke into the ranks of the top 10 global reinsurance groups by gross written premium (GWP) for 2011, demonstrating the growing importance of the region's reinsurance markets.

China Re and Korean Re have displaced Everest Re and Transatlantic Re in eighth and 10th position.

They have benefited from the fast growth in their domestic markets as well as their own overseas expansion, explained AM Best vice president Robert DeRose.

As at the end of 2011 China Re posted GWP of $6.18bn in the life and non-life sectors, with a combined ratio of 100.1 percent. Korean Re wrote $4.55bn of gross premium with a 102.8 percent combined ratio, according to data from the rating agency.

Everest Re and Transatlantic Re fell to 11th and 12th position respectively, with total GWP of $4.3bn and $4.03bn. The Bermudian player posted a combined ratio of 118.5 percent while Transatlantic Re saw a ratio of 113.9 percent for 2011, amid the $100bn+ of cat losses that occurred last year.

There has been little other change among the top ranks as GWP has by and large remained flat, with no major M&A, stagnant demand for reinsurance and relatively modest changes to rates (other than for loss-affected property cat).

Although most of the Asian duo's surge forward in GWP is a result of domestic rather than international growth, state-owned reinsurer China Re has been making concerted efforts to enter the global arena.

In early 2012, it became the first Chinese company to invest directly in Lloyd's as it partnered with Lloyd's blue-chip Catlin on a sidecar. The Chinese insurance market saw surging premium growth of 15 percent in 2011, according to Swiss Re estimates. As insurers seek relief from tightening solvency regulations, Swiss Re forecasts that Chinese insurers will continue to support the growth trend for reinsurance in 2012.

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