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Munich Re CEO: Buffett Stake Backs Our Strategy

Munich Re sees star investor Warren Buffett's stake in the reinsurer as evidence that he backs its long-term strategy aimed at creating stability, Munich Re's chief executive said on Wednesday.

"He would not have bought in if he didn't think our strategy good," Nikolaus von Bomhard told a news conference, referring to Buffett's voting stake in the world's biggest reinsurer, last reported to be at more than 5 percent.

Buffett also holds options on a further 1.9 percent stake that expire on Thursday, but would be required to disclose the change in his holding if the stake rises above 10 percent or falls below 5 percent.

Analysts have said they see Buffett's stakeholding as financial rather than strategic, a view von Bomhard corroborated by noting that Buffett does not traditionally seek to influence the management strategy of the companies he holds.

"He doesn't buy what he doesn't understand," von Bomhard added.

Buffett is already a global player in reinsurance through his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. unit and his 3 percent stake in the world's second biggest reinsurer, Swiss Re.

Munich Re on Wednesday said it was targeting net profit of 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) this year, and further improvement in 2011, as it seeks to reduce the volatility of earnings.

Reinsurers are hoping investors will see the advantage of strategies aimed safe and stable returns following the financial market ructions of the past two years.

The world's fourth-biggest reinsurer, Hannover Re is following a similar strategy and is due to release 2009 results on Thursday.

The presence of Buffett, a traditional proponent of long-term investing, would help highlight Munich Re's efforts, chief financial officer Joerg Schneider said.

"He is ideal for us," he told Reuters.

Munich Re's 2010 target is down from the more than 2.5 billion euros it earned in 2009, when it saw a windfall from no big losses on natural disasters and a rebound in financial markets.

The company's share has risen by 7.5 percent since the start of the year, outpacing a 2 percent rise in the Stoxx European insurance index.

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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Munich Re sees star investor Warren Buffett's stake in the reinsurer as evidence that he backs its long-term strategy aimed at creating stability, Munich Re's chief executive said on Wednesday. He would not have bought in if he didn't think our strategy good, Nikolaus...
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