Swiss Re has said it is still considering an approach about a partnership from Softbank, the Japanese tech-to-finance conglomerate, after eking out net income of $331m last year, despite being hit by $4.7bn in natural catastrophe claims.

The Swiss reinsurance company said on Friday its board was “carefully assessing the strategic and financial implications" of the approach by Softbank about taking a minority stake. The group's capital position was very strong, however, and “the issuance of new capital is not under consideration,” the Zurich-based company added.

Swiss Re described 2017 as “one of the costliest years for the re/insurance sector in history,” with its results hit by a series of hurricanes in the US and Caribbean, earthquakes in Mexico and Cyclone Debbie in Australia. Net income fell from $3.56bn in 2016. 

As well as natural disasters, reinsurers such as Swiss Re, which act as backstops to the insurance industry, have been hit by soft pricing and low interest rates, which have eroded investment income. 

However Christian Mumenthaler, chief executive, said that the outlook for the industry was “now more positive” than in the past four years. 

He went on: “Changes in the market environment, such as adjusting property and casualty price levels and increases in interest rates, are expected to be beneficial for our business. In addition, the catastrophes are a reminder of the relevance of large global re/insurers and their role in tackling the large worldwide insurance protection gap.”

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