Brit Insurance Holdings made a £9.9m profit before tax after increasing gross written premiums by 77% to £662.7m last year.

It lost £114,465 last year, on GWP of £374m. The group projected to burst through the billion pound barrier of gross premium income this year, expecting to achieve £1.05bn.

Basic earnings per share increased to 1.1p in 2002 from a loss of 34.02p the year before. The combined ratio for Brit's share of its underwriting improved to 88.6% from 154.1% the year before.

Its managed Lloyd's syndicates achieved a combined ratio of 92.3% and its FSA-regulated company achieved a combined ratio of 71.9%.

Chief executive Neil Eckert said up to £250m of new business - in property, fleet motor, commercial liability, employers' liability, professional indemnity and directors' and officers' cover - would be written through the insurance company rather than Lloyd's.

If Brit's succeeds in buying specialist liability insurer PRI, it would take the balance of Brit's business to about 75:25 in favour of Lloyd's and give the company its own critical mass, Eckert said.

Brit took a £4.2m loss for its telesales distribution business People's Choice, which lost 20,000 policies during the year to 130,000 from 150,000.

Eckert said: "Either we will mend it or do something about it."