August 3, 2018 / 6:03 AM / 12 days ago

UPDATE 1-Swiss Re explores ReAssure IPO for 2019 as H1 profit falls

* Swiss Re says would remain ReAssure investor

* IPO would aim to raise capital for UK closed book business

* Profit down on accounting changes (Updates with details of the report)

By Tom Sims

FRANKFURT, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Swiss Re is exploring the listing of its UK closed book business ReAssure in 2019, it said on Friday as it posted a 17 percent fall in net profit in the first half of the year.

The reinsurance giant said that it was important for ReAssure to have access to new capital to acquire additional closed books. Swiss Re said that it expected to remain a significant investor in the UK unit even after a possible IPO.

Net profit was $1.0 billion during the first six months, down from $1.2 billion a year earlier. Swiss Re said that profit would have been flat if it weren't for the changes in U.S. GAAP that affect the measurement of equity investments.

Eight analysts polled by Reuters had expected on average net profit of $1.13 billion.

Swiss Re and the insurance industry are bouncing back from a series of major hurricanes, fires and earthquakes in North America in 2017, the costliest year ever for the industry.

"It is positive to see that the market environment is gradually recovering," Chief Executive Christian Mumenthaler said.

Swiss Re and its competitors have been under pressure in recent years from falling prices amid intense competition.

Earlier this year, Swiss Re was in discussions with SoftBank about the Japanese group's potentially taking a stake in the reinsurer, but talks fizzled out. (Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Michael Shields)

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