Total shareholders’ equity decreased $65.8 million in the quarter to $3.5 billion at December 31, 2012.
During the fourth quarter of 2012, Aspen repurchased 308,674 ordinary shares in the open market at an average price of $31.85 per share for a total cost of $9.8 million. Between January 1, 2013 and February 6, 2013, Aspen repurchased 956,879 ordinary shares under its Rule 10b5-1 plan at an average price of $33.23 per share for a total cost of $31.8 million. Aspen had $358 million remaining under its current share repurchase authorization at February 6, 2013.
Aspen today announced that its Board of Directors has replaced its existing share repurchase authorization with a new authorization of $500 million. The total share repurchase authorization, which is effective immediately through February 7, 2015, permits Aspen to effect the repurchases from time to time through a combination of transactions, including open market repurchases, privately negotiated transactions and accelerated share repurchase transactions.Guidance Assuming a pre-tax catastrophe load of $190 million per annum, normal loss experience and given the current interest rate and pricing environment, we expect to achieve an operating return on equity of 10% in 2014. See “Forward-looking Statements Safe Harbor” below. (1) See provision of ASU 2010-26 on page 14(2) See definition of non-GAAP financial measures on pages 13 and 14 Earnings conference call and web cast Aspen will host a conference call to discuss the results at 9:00 am (EST) on Friday, February 8, 2013. To participate in the February 8 conference call by phonePlease call to register at least 10 minutes before the conference call begins by dialing: +1 (888) 459 5609 (US toll free) or+1 (404) 665 9920 (international)Conference ID 86526888 To listen live onlineAspen will provide a live webcast on Aspen’s website at www.aspen.co To download the materialsThe earnings press release and a detailed financial supplement will also be published on Aspen’s website at www.aspen.co. To listen laterA replay of the call will be available for 14 days via phone and internet, available two hours after the end of the live call. To listen to the replay by phone please dial: +1 (855) 859 2056 (US toll free) or+1 (404) 537 3406 (international)Replay ID 86526888