Swiss Re, the world's second-largest reinsurer, has reported a 6% drop in H1 profit attributed to lower gains from investment. The company also announced that current CEO John Coomber is to retire in January 2006.

H1 net profit stood at CHF1.35, a 6% decrease on the same period in 2004. The group said its focus on profitability led to a 4% fall in net premiums, which totaled CHF13.2 billion.

Swiss Re said that by narrowing its focus to the most profitable business, however, the company’s combined ratio – a key profitability gauge – improved to 95.5% from 96.1% in the prior-year period.

Swiss Re further improved the profitability of its reinsurance operations, said Mr Coomber, adding that the board would recommend an increased dividend of CHF 2.50 per share for the full year.

Mr Coomber will be succeeded by current deputy CEO Jacques Aigrain. In June, the reinsurer announced the realignment of its management structure to reinforce the group’s strategic objectives. By creating three new business functions – products, client markets and financial services – Swiss Re said hopes to promote an efficiency gain of around CHF100 million over the next two years.