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Lloyd's names 'likely to vote for settlement'

The significant improvement in the financial terms offered to names - or members - has produced a surge in support for the Lloyd's of London settlement proposals, a poll revealed yesterday.

Some 79 per cent of names said they are likely to support the settlement when they vote on it in July. Six months ago, a similar Mori poll showed that about 58 per cent felt likely to back the ambitious plans to free Lloyd's of its old loss-making policies and to enable names to draw a line under their affairs with the insurance market.

Since then, Lloyd's has reduced dramatically the cost to names of the final premium for reinsuring all their old loss-making policies in a special company, Equitas.

The amount of Equitas premiums to be divided between the 34,000 names has been cut from an expected pounds 1.9bn to less than pounds 1bn, and the terms improved of credits to help payment.

The poll was conducted by Mori in mid-May, after the improvements were announced, among a representative sample of 500 names. The results were compared with those of a similar telephone survey, covering 100 people, conducted in November 1995.

Significantly, support for the plan is strong, at 73 per cent, among those members who have stopped underwriting at Lloyd's because of the burden of their losses. Among active names 89 per cent expressed backing for the terms of the plan.

According to the Mori research, 65 per cent of names have a clear view of the plan and its alternative, while 77 per cent agreed with a statement that the plan is the only viable solution if Lloyd's is to continue to operate successfully. Some 59 per cent of members agreed with the statement that no other plan provides a fairer outcome for all parties concerned. The survey only covered UK names.

Lloyd's top executives have been engaged in an effort to win support among American names, who account for about 9 per cent of the total. Lloyd's has conceded that American names are the greatest obstacle to achieving a global settlement by August.