* Swiss Re says will deliver 2011-2015 targets
* Aims to reduce leverage by $4 bln by 2016
* Shifts assets into corporate debt, away from govt debt (Adds CFO quote, details)
ZURICH, June 24 (Reuters) - Reinsurance specialist Swiss Re stuck to its financial targets for 2011-2015 on Monday and said it would focus on dividend growth while shifting assets towards corporate debt and away from government bonds.
The firm, which competes with Germany’s Munich Re , said it aimed to improve the group’s return on equity by reducing leverage by more than 4 billion dollars by 2016 in a statement ahead of its investor day on Monday.
Swiss Re said a subsidiary was launching a tender offer to repurchase three tranches of its senior debt. It said it was continuing to shift its assets to high-quality corporate debt and reducing holdings in government bonds.
“A strong capital position allows us to continue our policy of deploying Group capital to take advantage of profitable business growth opportunities after having delivered on our first priority, which is paying an attractive, growing regular dividend to our investors,” said Swiss Re’s chief financial officer George Quinn.
The group also presented plans to increase the profitability of its life and health reinsurance business, saying near-term management actions would reduce US GAAP earnings of the unit by approximately $500 million before tax in 2014.
Reinsurers like Hannover, Munich and Swiss Re help insurance company customers cover the cost of major damage claims like hurricanes or earthquakes in exchange for part of the premium.
Shares in reinsurance firms have climbed steadily since 2011, when huge natural catastrophes including the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and flooding in Thailand created market conditions which allowed insurers to hike property and casualty policy prices.
The group said on Monday it expected costs savings of $250-300 million by 2015, which will be redeployed to areas which offer attractive financial returns, such as shifting personnel and resources into high growth markets.
The Swiss reinsurer previously reported a 21 percent rise in profit in the first quarter, driven by a rise in premium and fee income, low catastrophe losses and the expiry of a quota share agreement with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. (Reporting by Alice Baghdjian; editing by Patrick Graham)