February 20, 2019 / 7:34 AM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 1-Reinsurer Scor's 2018 profit rises despite Q4 blows from natural disasters

* Scor’s 2018 net profit rises 13 pct to 322 million euros

* But Scor made loss in Q4 after spate of natural disasters

* Scor raises dividend to 1.75 euros vs 1.65 euros

* CEO Kessler reiterates Scor plans to stay independent (Adds details on loss in fourth quarter)

By Inti Landauro and Matthieu Protard

PARIS, Feb 20 (Reuters) - French reinsurer Scor, which was the target of a thwarted acquisition by rival Covea last year, posted a surge in overall 2018 net profits despite making a loss in the fourth quarter caused by a spate of natural disasters.

Net profits rose 13 percent in 2018 to 322 million euros ($365 million), while gross written premiums rose 3.2 percent to 15.26 billion euros.

For the fourth quarter alone, Scor had a 20 million euro net loss after hurricanes in the United States, typhoons in Japan and wildfires in California hit its business. That loss compared with a 261 million euro profit in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Chief Executive Denis Kessler said Scor managed “robust” growth and “solid profitability” during the year.

Scor also proposed a dividend of 1.75 euros per share up from 1.65 euros per share in the previous year.

In reference to the failed attempted by insurer Covea to take over Scor in the second half of 2018, Kessler reiterated Scor intended to remain independent.

Unlisted cooperative insurer Covea, an increasingly assertive player on the French insurance market with wider European ambitions, made public an offer for Scor that valued the company at more than 8 billion euros. Covea offered a 21 percent premium over Scor’s market price.

Covea’s CEO Thierry Derez intended to create a major player in the European insurance market capable of swallowing smaller rivals as the industry consolidates.

Scor’s board rejected the offer for undervaluing the company. The opposition between the two CEOs escalated and Scor eventually sued Derez for breach of trust.

Covea abandoned the plans to buy Scor in late January.

$1 = 0.8823 euros Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

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