Munich (dpa) - Despite a halved profit in the first half of the year, the corona pandemic has a welcome effect for Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurer.

The year-long drop in prices in the reinsurance industry has stopped, the income of the traditional Munich company is rising strongly. The premium income would probably be two billion euros higher, said CEO Joachim Wenning on Thursday when presenting the new business figures. "On the other hand, the corona crisis creates opportunities," as the top manager put it.

The effect was clearly visible in the first half of the year. In the reinsurance business, premium income rose by over 13 percent to EUR 18 billion in the first half of the year. Primary insurance at the Düsseldorf subsidiary Ergo went in the other direction with slightly lower premium income.

However, reinsurance is the larger business area, and Wenning assumes that price increases and premium growth will continue in this area: "We are convinced that this will continue in the coming quarters." Munich Re had to struggle hard with steadily falling prices on the reinsurance market in recent years, which had caused profits to fall for several years in a row.

In the short term, the corona-related costs exceed the growth in revenue anyway: Net profit in the first half of the year shrank by almost 51 percent year-on-year from EUR 1.62 billion to EUR 800 million. Wenning and CFO Christoph Jurecka put the cost of the crisis for the company at 1.5 billion euros so far.

However, the second quarter looked better than the first: Profit fell less sharply by almost 42 percent to EUR 579 million, and premium income in reinsurance rose from the beginning of April to the end of June by almost 17 percent year-on-year to 8 .8 billion euros too.

Munich Re canceled the original profit expectation of 2.8 billion euros for this year, there is no new forecast. The future course of the pandemic is "extremely open," said CFO Jurecka.

On the other hand, Munich Re has so far largely been spared natural disasters, with losses in the first half of the year far below the usual average. However, the company believes that the big explosion in Beirut will result in claims payments, although the amount is still unclear. And the climax of the hurricane season in the North Atlantic is still to come.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200806-99-64934 / 2