Alea Group reported a pre-tax profit of $54.5m (£30.2m) for the year ended 31 December 2003.

This compared to a pre-tax profit of $52.6m (£29.2m) the previous year.

But after-tax profits dropped to $41m (£22.8m), compared to $54.6m (£30.3m) for 2002.

Alea finance director Amanda Atkins attributed the after-tax profit dip to "short-term fluctuations in bond market yields".

Gross written premium (GWP) increased 40% to $1.3bn (£721m), compared to $931m (£516m) in 2002. The group's combined ratio was 94.9%, compared to 100.7% the previous year.

Alea London reported a 50% rise in GWP from $376.4m (£209m) to $566m (£314m).

Alea said its London operation would be aiming to expand its UK insurance portfolio in 2004.

Alea chief executive Dennis Purkiss said there were no firm plans regarding the expansion, though the insurer was exploring "potential opportunities".

Alea did not declare a dividend, but said it intended to begin paying dividends in 2004.

Alea was promoted to the FTSE 250 earlier this month, with effect from 22 March.