Lloyd’s of London insurance market posted a 28 percent drop in first-half pretax profit on Thursday and said pricing remained tough in a competitive market.
The insurance and reinsurance markets have attracted new players in recent years, drawn by high returns compared with other markets.
“We are in an intensively competitive environment at the moment because of the attractive returns,” chief executive Inga Beale told Reuters by telephone, adding this meant “there has been some pressure on pricing.”
Pretax profit for the half-year ending June 30 fell 28 percent to 1.19 billion pounds ($1.83 billion), the firm said in a trading statement on Thursday.
Lloyd’s’ combined ratio, a measure of profitability showing how much of insurance premiums are paid out in claims and expenses, rose to 89.5 percent from 87.4 percent a year earlier. A level below 100 percent indicates a profit.
Low interest rates have also eroded gains on investments.
Gross written premiums rose to 15.5 billion pounds, up 7 percent from a year earlier, but investment returns more than halved to 0.6 percent.
Return on capital dropped by a third to 10.7 percent.
Ninety-six syndicates underwrite insurance at Lloyd’s, housed in one of the most recognizable buildings in London’s main financial district, including listed companies such as Hiscox and Beazley.
Overseas insurers have been snapping up Lloyd’s companies as the easiest way to access this 300-year old market.
MS&AD said this week it had agreed to buy Lloyd’s insurer Amlin.
Meanwhile, Everest Re said late on Wednesday it had received approval for a new Lloyd’s syndicate.
Beale said there was no limit on the number of syndicates that could set up at Lloyd’s, but new firms needed to offer new types of business, such as cyber insurance.
“We do like to set the bar reasonably high.”
Lloyd’s is looking to develop business in emerging markets and has opened offices in Dubai and China this year, with plans to open in Malaysia.
“We are also looking at India and Korea and we recently went down to sub-Saharan Africa with over 20 underwriters — that’s the next continent on our radar,” Beale said.
($1 = 0.6505 pounds) (Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; editing by Mark Potter)
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