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ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss Re, the world's second-largest reinsurer, said on Thursday fourth-quarter net profit fell 45 percent after outlays on claims from natural disasters such as Hurricane Matthew and an earthquake in New Zealand proved costly.
Swiss Re proposed raising its regular dividend for 2016 to 4.85 Swiss francs from 4.60 francs in 2015 and announced a new share buyback programme of up to 1 billion Swiss francs ($989.8 million).
Net profit for the year fell to $3.558 billion, behind the average estimate of $3.716 billion in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Swiss Re confirmed its mid-term targets. It also said Chief Underwriting Officer Matthias Weber had decided to step down, and would be replaced by Edouard Schmid, currently head of property and specialty reinsurance, as of June 30.
($1 = 1.0103 Swiss francs)
Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; editing by Michael Shields and Jason Neely