1 Significant accounting principles
Basis of presentation
On 1 January 2013, new Swiss accounting and financial reporting legislation entered into force based on partial revisions of the Swiss Code of Obligations. Based on the transitional provisions, the new provisions have to be implemented for annual accounts from the 2015 financial year onwards, at the latest. Therefore, Swiss Re Ltd’s financial statements for the 2013 financial year have been prepared based on the accounting provisions of the Swiss Code of Obligations in effect until 31 December 2012.
The financial year 2013 comprises the accounting period from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2013.
Use of estimates in the preparation of annual accounts
The preparation of the annual accounts requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses as well as the related disclosures. Actual results could differ from these estimates.
Foreign currency translation
Assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies are converted into Swiss francs at year-end exchange rates with the exception of participations, which are maintained in Swiss francs at historical exchange rates. Income and expenses are converted into Swiss francs at average exchange rates for the reporting year.
Cash and cash equivalents
Cash and cash equivalents include cash at bank, short-term deposits and certain investments in money-market funds with an original maturity of three months or less. Such current assets are held at nominal value.
Short-term investments contain investments with an original maturity between three months and one year. Such investments are carried at cost, less necessary and legally permissible depreciation.
Receivables from subsidiaries and affiliated companies/Other receivables
These assets are carried at nominal value. Value adjustments are recorded where the expected recovery value is lower than the nominal value.
Accrued income includes other expenditures incurred during the financial year but relating to a subsequent financial year, and revenues relating to the current financial year but which are receivable in a subsequent financial year.
Investments in subsidiaries and affiliated companies
These assets are carried at cost, less necessary and legally permissible depreciation.
Own shares are carried at cost, less necessary and legally permissible depreciation.
Loans to subsidiaries and affiliated companies
Loans to subsidiaries and affiliated companies are carried at nominal value. Value adjustments are recorded where the expected recovery value is lower than the nominal value.
Payables to subsidiaries and affiliated companies/Other liabilities
These liabilities are carried at nominal value.
Accrued expenses consist of both income received before the balance sheet date but relating to a subsequent financial year, and charges relating to the current financial year but which are payable in a subsequent financial year.
The provision for taxation represents an estimate of taxes payable in respect of the reporting year.
The provision for currency fluctuation comprises the net effect of foreign exchange gains and losses arising from the revaluation of the opening balance sheet and the translation adjustment of the income statement from average to closing exchange rates at year-end. These net impacts are recognised in the income statement over a period of up to three years. Where the provision for currency fluctuation is insufficient to absorb net foreign exchange losses for the financial year, the provision for currency fluctuation is reduced to zero and the excess foreign exchange loss is recognised in the income statement.
Foreign exchange transaction gains and losses
Foreign exchange gains and losses arising from foreign exchange transactions are recognised in the income statement and reported in other expenses or other income, respectively.
Dividends from subsidiaries and affiliated companies
Dividends from subsidiaries and affiliated companies are recognised as revenue in the year in which they are declared.
Capital and indirect taxes
Capital and indirect taxes related to the financial year are included in other expenses. Value-added taxes are included in the respective expense lines in the income statement.
Income tax expense
As a holding company incorporated in Switzerland, Swiss Re Ltd is exempt from income taxation at cantonal/communal level. On federal level, dividends from subsidiaries and affiliated companies are indirectly exempt from income taxation (participation relief). However, income tax is payable on trademark license fees charged to certain subsidiaries and affiliated companies.