Swiss Re announced today CEO John Coomber will retire at the end of year and be replaced by his deputy, Jacques Aigrain.[@@]

Coomber assumed the CEO post in 2003 and helped lead the company back to profitability.

Aigrain, 51, has banking experience at J.P. Morgan. In 2001, he was put in charge of Swiss Re’s Financial Services Business Group and last year was named deputy CEO.

The Zurich-based company is the world’s largest health and life reinsurer and the second largest property-casualty reinsurer.

Also today, the company announced first half 2005 net profits fell 6% from the same period last year, to $1.06 billion.

London-based Fitch Ratings director Damir Bettini says the company’s earnings were in line with his expectations.

As for the company’s claim that a drop in premiums was due to its cycle management techniques, Bettini says the real test will be in the next couple of years as competition on pricing and terms and conditions intensifies.

“However, there are signs from a number of players, Swiss Re included, that this time around there may be somewhat more discipline than in previous cycles,” he says.