We are thoroughly satisfied with the development of our business as at 30 September 2016: we have put in place a good platform for achieving our year-end target, which envisages Group net income of at least EUR 950 million. Despite the continued highly competitive climate, the results delivered by both our business groups, namely Property & Casualty and Life & Health reinsurance, lived up to expectations. Profitability in property and casualty reinsurance, which posted a significantly improved underwriting result, was very pleasing.
Gross written premium in total business contracted by 3.8% to EUR 12.5 billion (EUR 12.9 billion) as at 30 September 2016. In the comparable period significant growth had been recorded, driven in part by a strong US dollar. At constant exchange rates the decrease would have been 1.7%. This puts us on a very good track to achieve our expectations for the full financial year. The level of retained premium rose to 89.6% (87.9%). Net premium earned fell marginally by 0.6% to EUR 10.8 billion (EUR 10.8 billion). At constant exchange rates an increase of 1.7% would have been booked.
In a continued difficult climate our investments performed slightly better than our expectations. After the already sharp increase in 2015, the portfolio of assets under own management recorded further growth to reach EUR 40.7 billion (31 December 2015: EUR 39.3 billion). Ordinary investment income retreated to EUR 852.0 million (EUR 912.5 million). This reflects in part the challenging interest rate environment, but also above all the elimination of a positive special effect of EUR 39 million recognised in life and health reinsurance in the previous year. Interest on funds withheld and contract deposits decreased to EUR 249.9 million (EUR 292.9 million). Net realised gains climbed to EUR 153.6 million (EUR 124.2 million). Our financial assets measured at fair value through profit or loss gave rise to net gains of EUR 29.2 million (loss of EUR 9.2 million) in the period under review. Impairments of EUR 61.0 million (EUR 24.1 million) were taken in the period under review. They consisted largely of scheduled depreciation on real estate and write-downs on equities caused by a temporary fall in the value of some stocks as a consequence of “Brexit”. Income from investments under own management totalled EUR 896.5 million (EUR 931.8 million) as at 30 September 2016.
The operating profit (EBIT) for the Hannover Re Group in an amount of EUR 1,189.1 million as at 30 September 2016 was almost exactly on the level of the previous year (EUR 1,190.3 million). This is highly gratifying in view of the fact that 2015 had been favourably influenced by the aforementioned special effect. Owing to lower interest on our hybrid capital, Group net income increased by 0.5% to EUR 790.0 million (EUR 786.0 million). Earnings per share amounted to EUR 6.55 (EUR 6.52).
Against the backdrop of higher valuation reserves and despite the dividend payment of EUR 572.8 million, the shareholders’ equity of Hannover Re grew substantially to EUR 8.8 billion as at 30 September 2016 (31 December 2015: EUR 8.1 billion). The book value per share stood at EUR 72.81 (31 December 2015: EUR 66.90). Reflecting the further increase in shareholders’ equity, the annualised return on equity fell to 12.5% as at 30 September 2016 (31 December 2015: 14.7%).
Hannover Re’s capital adequacy ratio (Solvency II ratio) continues to be comfortably in excess of requirements. Particularly due to the higher valuation reserves, it increased further to 231% as at 30 June 2016. It had stood at 221% as at 31 December 2015.