Swiss Re saw a loss of $462m on its life and health reinsurance business, which it attributed to changes in its US business.
Premiums earned and fee income at Swiss Re were up 12% on 2013 at $11.3bn for 2014 compared to $10bn in 2013.
In 2014 Swiss Re negotiated with clients to resolve underperforming books of business and unwound an asset funding structure which was providing less returns than the interest due on related debt.
This was said by the reinsurer to account for the loss on its life and health reinsurance business for 2014.
The reinsurer "remains confident" to have a 10-12% return on its equity target for life and health by 2015.
Net income stood at $3.5bn and a share buy-back of up to CHF1bn and dividends of CHF 4.25 per share regular and a special dividend of CHF 3 per share have both been announced.
Michel M. Liès, group chief executive officer at Swiss Re, said: "We expect the overall re/insurance market environment to remain challenging over the next years, especially for the smaller and less differentiated players.
"With this, a clear focus on profitability and economic growth is essential - so we can continue to deliver value to our clients and shareholders. With the two new Group financial targets announced today, we clearly show that this remains our top priority and long-term commitment."
He added: "Our performance, together with our capital position, supports the proposed significant capital distribution of around USD 3.7 billion to our shareholders. In addition, we addressed issues in the underperforming areas. As a result, we are confident in our ability to reach our 2011-2015 financial targets."