Insurer's pre-tax profits fall by £9.6m in first half

Competitive market conditions took their toll on Allianz Cornhill, which saw its pre-tax profits fall by £9.6m in the first half of 2006.

Profits before tax fell by 9% to £101.4m in the six-months, from £111m in 2005. Gross written premium slid 4% from £876.6m in 2005 to £843.1m. The insurer's combined ratio deteriorated by 1.5 points to 95.4% during the first half of 2006.

Chief executive Andrew Torrance insisted the company was "on track" to hit its full-year target.

"I expect the performance in the second half of 2006 to exceed the profit performance we saw in the second half of 2005."

Full year profit in 2005 was £206.4m before tax.

Commercial lines premiums were 2.5% ahead of the same period in 2005 at £300m. But the combined ratio deteriorated to 95.4%, from 92.5% in 2005. Torrance blamed this on increased competition in the market.

Personal lines produced a "strong" performance, which saw a combined ratio of 98.5%, slightly down on the previous year's result of 97.6%.

The insurer's specialty business, however, saw profitability improve, producing a combined ratio of 92.7% for the period, compared to 93.9% in 2005.

Allianz Cornhill buys out remaining Premierline holding
Allianz Cornhill has bought SME specialist intermediary Premierline, the insurer's second acquisition in as many months.

The company already had a 20% stake in Premierline and has now acquired the remaining 80% for an undisclosed sum. The broker will operate as a separate business unit and the existing management team will remain in place.

Barrie Wells, chief executive of Premierline, said the broker was looking to more than double in size by 2008, increasing its premium income from £15m-£20m to £50m by 2008.

Simon McGinn, Allianz Cornhill's North and Midlands trading director, added that the insurer would be looking to grow Premierline by developing its marketing strategy, maintaining underwriting discipline and launching additional products.

Allianz Cornhill acquired Home and Legacy Insurance Group - the specialist mid- to high-net-worth household insurance intermediary - in June.