REFILE-Warren Buffett seeks $1 bln from Swiss Re

Tue Dec 4, 2012 1:21pm EST

* No threat to Swiss Re dividend - JP Morgan

* Shares up 0.8 percent, in line with sector

LONDON, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate is claiming up to $1 billion from reinsurer Swiss Re in a dispute over a life insurance deal they agreed to in 2010.

Berkshire Hathaway is "alleging damages of between $0.5 and $1 billion", Swiss Re said on page 73 of the third-quarter earnings statement it issued on Nov. 8, adding the claim was without merit.

Swiss Re and Berkshire Hathaway were not available to comment.

Berkshire's claim against Swiss Re was first reported by the Insurance Insider newspaper on Monday.

Swiss Re shares were up 0.8 percent at 1125 GMT on Tuesday, in line with a European insurance sector index.

Analysts at JP Morgan said Swiss Re would be able to meet dividend forecasts even if it had to pay Berkshire Hathaway.

"Swiss Re's capital is in our view strong enough to absorb this and still have the ability to raise the normal dividend and pay a special dividend too," they wrote in a note.

Swiss Re has met Berkshire to discuss the claim, and failure to resolve the dispute could lead to arbitration proceedings, the reinsurer said in its earnings statement in November.

Swiss Re, the world's No.2 reinsurer, accepted an emergency $3.3 billion loan from Berkshire in 2009 after it incurred heavy losses on derivative investments during the financial crisis. That loan has since been repaid.

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