Lloyd's newcomer has fiery baptism: California quake could bring pounds 15m liability

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The Independent Online
LONDON Insurance Market Investment Trust, the largest of the companies set up to provide capital to the Lloyd's insurance market, estimates that the California earthquake in January will eventually cost it pounds 10m to pounds 15m.

The trust also said it wanted to acquire powers to invest in Lloyd's managing agents and new insurance companies that may emerge. A recent Lloyd's report envisaged that managing agents might create companies to provide underwriting capital to their own syndicates.

Jonathan Agnew, Limit's chairman, said the company might want to invest in managing agents to protect its ability to secure underwriting capacity.

Allan Nichols, research director, said Limit, which began underwriting this year, had a baptism of fire. On top of the Californian earthquake, the start of this year saw a harsh US winter, high losses of ships and the Australian bush fires. The only significant cost to hit Limit would come from the earthquake, estimated to have caused total insured damage of about dollars 7.5bn ( pounds 5bn). Limit's first figures, for the four and a half months to the end of March, only show the results of investing the pounds 268m it raised last autumn. It will not receive a contribution from insurance until 1997, because of the three-year accounting system at Lloyd's.

By 31 March, Limit's net asset value had fallen marginally to 95.5p a share. Its funds, invested to track the FT-SE 350 index, have continued to fall in line with recent market weakness.

Dividend income produced a pre-tax profit of pounds 3.9m. Limit is paying a first dividend of 1p.

The company is supporting pounds 505.5m of underwriting on 101 of the 179 syndicates trading at Lloyd's this year.