FSA orders listed companies to disclose losses from US attacks 'without delay'

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The Independent Online

Companies listed on the London Stock Exchange were yesterday ordered to reveal the scale of their losses resulting from the US terrorist outrage "without delay".

The Financial Services Authority reminded companies that from December they would face unlimited fines for breaching City rules on disclosing information. It is understood the watchdog is concerned that the number of trading statements is average for the time of year despite the unusual and tragic events of the last few weeks.

In a letter to all companies listed on the Stock Exchange, Ken Rushton, director of the United Kingdom Listing Authority, said companies faced "onerous sanctions" for delaying announcements. "In volatile market conditions, I believe it is timely to remind listed companies of their obligations ... to announce material developments in their business without delay," he said.

The warning ­ described by an FSA spokesman as a "prodding exercise" ­ came as three Lloyd's of London insurers added up their estimates of the cost of the attacks, reaching a combined total of nearly £140m.

Cox, which controls about 5 per cent of the Lloyd's market, said it would cost it at an estimated £30m net, plus £12m to buy additional reinsurance. Cox said its loss related mainly to property damage to the World Trade Centre and buildings in the vicinity, as well as reinsurance of other companies.

The smaller UK insurer Goshawk said it expected net claims of about $12m (£8.2m) and Australia's QBE, the largest Lloyd's player with an 8 per cent share, put its net loss at A$250m (£84m) including A$100m in net losses in its Lloyd's syndicates.

Michael Dawson, Cox's chief executive, said the losses would be offset by premium increases. "Premiums would only have to rise by 6 per cent and we could pay for this in a year ­ they will certainly rise by more than this level," he said.

Lloyd's, the world's biggest insurance market, has estimated its total losses from the destruction in New York and Washington at some £1.3bn ­ its most costly event ever.

The attacks are also set to be the most expensive hit to the global insurance industry, with estimates for the final bill ranging from $25bn to $70bn. Meanwhile, the Bank of New York said the attacks would wipe $125m (£86m) off third-quarter earnings because of branch and market closures and the costs of putting contingency plans in place.

The White House said President George Bush was concerned the US economy was "hurting". "The President is very concerned about the health of the economy," Mr Bush's spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said.

He was speaking after new figures showed the US economy grew by 0.3 per cent in the second quarter, its weakest level since the first quarter of 1993. This was an upward revision from the first estimate of 0.2 per cent, and gave some economists cause for hope. However, US consumer confidence slid in September.

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