Swiss Re reported a Group net income of USD 1.3 billion in the first nine months of 2019, an increase of 23% from USD 1.1 billion for the same period a year earlier, supported by growth in Reinsurance and an excellent investment result. While the Group's property and casualty businesses were impacted by USD 1.7 billion in large claims from natural catastrophes and man-made events, the life and health businesses continued to deliver a strong performance. Net premiums earned and fee income rose by 10% year-on-year to USD 28.4 billion, driven in particular by growth in P&C Re premiums. The Group's ROE was 6.0%, and its capital position remained very strong.
Swiss Re's Group Chief Executive Officer Christian Mumenthaler said: 'The strength of our business with its global reach, diversification and very strong capitalisation enabled us to react fast and support our clients and their customers affected by the large natural catastrophes and man-made events in the first nine months. Our Reinsurance Business Unit achieved profitable growth in a challenging market environment. The transformation of Corporate Solutions is underway, and we continue to benefit from robust gross cash generation in Life Capital. Our leading market position and positive rate dynamics year to date give us confidence for the upcoming renewal season.'
Swiss Re reported an ROI of 4.3% in the first nine months of 2019, up from 2.8% in the same period a year earlier. The increase reflects a strong equity market performance, including a significant gain from the sale of the Group's investment in the Brazilian insurance group SulAmérica S.A., as well as gains within the fixed income portfolio. The Group's fixed income running yield for the nine-month period remained stable at 2.9%, despite headwinds from the declining yield environment.
Swiss Re maintains a very strong capital position, with a Group SST ratio of 241% (1 July 2019 estimate), exceeding its 220% target. The decline from 251% as of 1 January 2019 reflects capital deployment into profitable growth, expected capital repatriation to shareholders and lower interest rates, partly offset by positive earnings contributions.
In light of the capital deployment, significant natural catastrophe losses in 2019, and the decision to suspend the initial public offering of ReAssure, the Board of Directors has decided that the second tranche of the public share buy-back programme will not be launched. The first tranche of the public share buy-back programme of up to CHF 1.0 billion purchase value, which started on 6 May 2019, is well on track, with more than 60% already completed as of 30 September 2019.
Swiss Re's Group Chief Financial Officer John Dacey said: 'The Group's results in the first nine months underline the strength of our franchise. Despite multiple large natural catastrophe and man-made claims affecting the business, our capital position remains very strong, allowing us to take advantage of growth opportunities in an improving pricing environment.'