GA tops pounds 200m in first six months: Lower underwriting losses spur growth

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GENERAL Accident made record profits before tax of pounds 203.2m in the first six months of 1994, up from pounds 124.7m last year. Higher life insurance profits and lower underwriting losses were behind the improvement.

Life profits were pounds 5m higher at pounds 25.9m, reflecting the growth in new business. Both new annual and single-premium business increased compared with the first half of 1993.

In Britain, GA made profits of pounds 93.5m from underwriting, up from only pounds 3.5m in the first half of 1993, with gains in every area except liability insurance because of increases in premiums. Winter storms in the US and Canada meant underwriting losses in North America were pounds 105.9m, up from pounds 81.5m last year. Nelson Robertson, chief executive, said the underlying performance in the US had improved. 'We are getting very good rate increases,' he said.

Underwriting profits from the Pacific region doubled to pounds 5.6m, and there was rapid premium growth in Asia, according to Mr Robertson. The Pacific was the fastest-growing region, accounting for 9 per cent of total premium income in the first half, although Britain and North America still accounted for 80 per cent of the total.

The group's investment income fell from pounds 233m to pounds 228m because of lower interest rates. Losses on estate agency increased from pounds 4.5m to pounds 5.3m.

GA's shares fell 13p to 590p. The interim dividend was increased by 4 per cent to 10.1p.