2017 was one of the most costly years ever for the (re)insurance industry and in the history of our company. Most notably, hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria – along with other natural catastrophe events – caused net loss expenditure of EUR 749.4 million. With Group net income of EUR 959 million, however, we still generated a thoroughly satisfactory result. Our gross premium income reached EUR 17.8 billion, an increase of 8.8% compared to the previous year. The operating profit (EBIT) stood at EUR 1.4 billion (previous year: EUR 1.7 billion). Earnings per share amounted to EUR 7.95.
Altogether, we distributed around 60% of Group net income to our shareholders. The total amount paid out came to EUR 603.0 million, split into a basic dividend of EUR 3.50 plus a special dividend of EUR 1.50 per share.
The equity attributable to shareholders of Hannover Re fell by 5.2% relative to the previous year to reach EUR 8.5 billion (previous year: EUR 9.0 billion). The total policyholders’ surplus (including non-controlling interests and hybrid capital) contracted by 4.0% to EUR 10.8 billion (previous year: EUR 11.2 billion). The book value per share decreased accordingly to stand at EUR 70.72 (previous year: EUR 74.61). The return on equity declined to 10.9% (previous year: 13.7%).
Personnel expenditure on wages and salaries amounted to EUR 274.4 million (previous year: EUR 258.1 million) in the last financial year, a modest increase relative to the previous year.
The indirect economic impacts of our business activities are linked to the product-related goals and measures of our Sustainability Strategy and Group Strategy and fall within the scope of responsibility of the Executive Board.