With gross premium of more than EUR 17 billion we are the fourth-largest reinsurer in the world. We transact all lines of property & casualty and life & health reinsurance and are present on all continents with roughly 3,300 staff. We can look back on over 50 successful years in the reinsurance business. Established in 1966, our Group today has a network of more than 140 subsidiaries, branches and representative offices worldwide. Our subsidiary E+S Rück transacts the German business of our Group.
The rating agencies most relevant to the insurance industry have awarded both Hannover Re and E+S Rück outstanding financial strength ratings: Standard & Poor's "AA-" (Very Strong) and A.M. Best "A+" (Superior). Along with our excellent financial strength ratings, our high degree of diversification, balanced risk management and comparatively low administrative expense ratio by industry standards all play a part in our enduring success.
Our profit and growth targets are pivotal to the Group strategy. Profitability and value creation are the foundations of our sustainable development in the interests of our clients, shareholders, employees and business partners. With this in mind, our goal is to achieve economic success while at the same time respecting the needs of our staff, society and the environment. Our objectives are reviewed in a three-year cycle and adjusted as necessary. Non-financial targets are specified in more concrete detail in, among other things, the sustainability strategy.
We conduct our insurance business with the lowest administrative expenses in our industry, thereby generating competitive advantages to the benefit of our clients and shareholders. This is made possible by, among other things, lean organisational structures and a uniform global IT infrastructure. In addition, we have put in place centralised underwriting in property and casualty reinsurance, which is written out of Hannover. With a view to optimising our cost of capital we focus on the efficient allocation of our capital, including the use of hybrid capital. This enables us to generate above-average profitability, while at the same time offering our clients reinsurance protection on competitive terms.
Through the acceptance of reinsurance risks with largely little or no correlation across all lines of business and based on our global presence, we are able to achieve broad diversification and hence an efficient balance of risks. In conjunction with our capital management, this is the key to our comparatively low cost of capital.
We transact primary insurance in selected market niches as a complement to our core reinsurance activities. In this context, we always work together with partners from the primary insurance sector.