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Full name: Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft, the "Munich Re group", as it is known internationally, is the world's largest reinsurance company with a market capitalization of $17 billion as of mid-2003, though it also has holdings in many primary insurers.

The company was founded in 1880 by Carl Thieme, who had left his father's insurance company to found his own. Almost from the start, it dealt internationally across continental Europe; after entering the stock market in 1888, branches in the Great Britain (1890) and the United States (1899) followed. In between, Thieme co-founded Allianz, now one of Germany's largest insurance companies, if not the largest. Allianz is still closely linked with Munich Re and owns 20% of its shares.

The reinsurance business was still very new at the time Munich Re was founded, and Thiele pioneered many practices that are now industry standard. One of the most important acid tests was the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, after which Munich Re settled its claims very quickly and efficiently, gaining a very good reputation and many new customers among companies who had previously not considered reinsurance at all.

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