Net profit of USD 115 million, despite unprecedented global catastrophe losses and regional challenges.
Qatar Insurance Group, a leading insurer in the Middle East North African region has announced solid financial results for the full year 2017.
As a globally diversified insurance group, QIC successfully weathered severe headwinds from record global natural catastrophe losses and unexpected political challenges in the region. Defying such adversity, the Group reported robust growth and resilient profitability in the financial year ended 31 December, 2017. Presided by Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed bin Ali Al-Thani, Chairman & Managing Director, the Board of Directors approved the financial results for the reporting period at its latest meeting.
Mr. Khalifa Abdulla Turki Al Subaey, Group President & CEO of QIC Group commented, “In the face of unprecedented market adversity, QIC has proven its resilience and maintained its leading position across the MENA region. At the same time, we have continued to expand our global footprint, positioning us well for any market hardening going forward.” Mr. Al Subaey continued: “QIC reaffirms its vision to develop into a global top 50 insurance group. In this endeavor, our focus on sustainable and profitable growth, based on underwriting and investment management excellence, in combination with superior cost-efficiency, will remain unchanged.”
2017 has been a challenging year for the global insurance industry due to the exceptional natural catastrophe events impacting the US, namely the Harvey, Irma and Maria (HIM) windstorms. The impact has been exacerbated by the sequential nature of the windstorms that caused a total industry loss of up to USD 100 billion. Through its global operations Qatar Re and Antares’ Lloyd’s syndicate 1274, QIC was significantly impacted by these unprecedented natural catastrophic events. However, these losses were well within QIC’s risk appetite and tolerance limits. For QIC Group, HIM was an earnings event only, adding 6.8 percentage points to the Group’s non-life combined ratio. The combined impact did not affect QIC Group’s solvency from a regulatory, ratings or internal capital adequacy point of view.
Another major event that hit insurers operating in the UK insurance market, where QIC Group also had exposure through its international operations, was the sharp and unexpected reduction of the Ogden discount rate in the first quarter in 2017. This revision forced the insurers to increase their loss reserves. The industry-wide impact of Ogden is estimated to be USD 10 billion in additional loss reserves.
Against this adverse backdrop, QIC Group generated a net underwriting result of USD 32 million in 2017, down by 86% compared with the previous year.
Based on its strong global footprint, QIC Group is well positioned to benefit from any upswing in global (re)insurance rates as a result of HIM and other major insured disasters in 2017.
Throughout the reporting period, QIC Group continued to expand steadily and systematically across its global and regional target markets, lines of business and client segments, recording Gross Written Premiums (GWP) of USD 3.2 billion, an increase of 18% compared with 2016. Once more, the Group’s key growth engines were Qatar Re, Antares and QIC Europe Limited (QEL) which now account for approximately 75% of the Group’s total GWP.
Domestically, Q Life and Medical Insurance Company (QLM), the dominant life and medical insurance company in Qatar added buoyancy to the Group’s overall performance.
QIC Group’s consolidated net profit for the full year 2017 came in at USD 115 million, compared to USD 284 million for the same period of the previous year. Since 5 June, 2017 when the regional diplomatic stand-off began, Qatar’s key stock market index has shed about 17% of its value. Despite these political and other unrelated economic turbulences in the Middle East, QIC Group’s net investment result amounted to USD 248 million in 2017, up 11.3% year-on-year, further adding to a long track record of superior investment performance based on a careful diversification across geographies and asset classes. As a testament, in 2017, QIC was conferred the “Top Investment House from the MENA region” accolade by a publication and survey of global repute.
The Group’s continued endeavour towards managing expenses showed additional results as the administrative expense ratio for its core operations declined from 8% in 2016 to 7% in 2017.
The overall non-life combined ratio stood at 105.8%, up from 98.0%. The Group’s core combined ratio, excluding catastrophes, came in at 99%, compared with 98% in the previous year, testifying to QIC’s underlying technical profitability. As of 31 December, 2017, QIC Group’s shareholders’ equity stood at USD 2.2 billion.
QIC Group’s reinsurance arm Qatar Re continued to benefit from its Bermuda domicile’s Solvency II equivalency and proximity to the world’s largest insurance market, the US, combined with a strong local presence in the major reinsurance hubs of Zurich, London, Singapore and Dubai.
Qatar Re continued on its path of diversification and expansion through its recent acquisition of Markerstudy’s Gibraltar-based insurance companies, namely, Markerstudy Insurance Company Limited, Zenith Insurance PLC, St Julians Insurance Company Limited and Ultimate Insurance Company Limited (which is subject to regulatory approval). These companies write more than 5% of the UK motor insurance market, a book of about £ 750 million. This transaction provides Qatar Re with access to lower volatility business with predictable returns, balancing other areas such as property and specialty reinsurance.
In addition, last year Qatar Re was successful in the placement of USD 450 million of Reg S Perpetual non-call 5.5 subordinated Tier 2 notes that were guaranteed on a subordinated basis by QIC to institutional investors representing its debut issuance in the international debt capital markets. The issue attracted over 290 orders for more than USD 6.5 billion and achieved a very balanced global distribution with investors from across the globe.
Alongside this development, in 2017, Antares, QIC’s specialist insurer and reinsurer at Lloyd’s in London and Antares Asia in Singapore and Shanghai continued to provide the Group with access to a broad, well-diversified underwriting portfolio in Property, Casualty, Terrorism, Political, Accident and Health, Energy, Marine and Aviation, and Reinsurance.
In addition, in 2017, QIC Europe Ltd (QEL), the Group’s fully-owned Malta-based subsidiary dedicated to underwrite risks across the European Economic Area (EEA) captured numerous new business opportunities. Capitalizing on its EU domicile, QEL further developed partnerships with chosen Managing General Agents (MGAs) and Lloyd’s cover holders to support carefully selected portfolios.
On the regional front, in 2017, the Group’s structural changes started showing positive results. Despite the prevailing challenges, QIC’s regional operations outperformed its peers in respective markets, exhibiting higher levels of profitability. For instance, the Group’s subsidiary in Oman, Oman Qatar Insurance Company (OQIC) was highly successful in floating the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of 25% of its total share capital in the Muscat Securities Market.
2017 was a particularly successful year for the Group’s retail business in the Middle East. This segment underwent a complete digital transformation, enabling product enhancements, improved service delivery and modernized distribution channels through a user-friendly online retail platform. This transformation has greatly enhanced overall customer experience, on the back of more convenient, quick and seamless insurance purchasing and claims settlement.
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