Ace Ltd has reported a record net income for 2003 of $1.4bn. This compared with net income of $77m for 2002 .

For the three months ending 31 December 2003, net income was $421m, or $1.45 per share.

This compared with a net loss of $168m for the comparable period in 2002, said Ace.

It said net premium written of $10.2bn increased by 27% during 2003 when compared with 2002.

The combined ratio for Ace's property and casualty sector was 91.1% for 2003, compared with a figure of 103% for 2002.

Ace chairman and chief executive Brian Duperreault said: "The record results of 2003 reflect the significant earnings power that Ace has built up over the last three years.

"With annual net income substantially in excess of $1bn, Ace has established a pre-eminent presence in the global property and casualty insurance industry.

"As we look ahead to 2004, we view our prospects for further growth with continued optimism."