Catlin is to increase its presence in the regional market as it looks to grow its UK insurance business.

As part of its UK regional strategy, the insurer is set to open a new office in Tunbridge Wells, which will add to two centres already opened in Birmingham and Watford in the second half of 2005.

Catlin UK underwrites commercial property and professional liability in addition to other lines of business.

Stephen Catlin, Catlin's chief executive, told Insurance Times that further expansion was expected as the UK business looked to strengthen its position in the SME market in particular.

He admitted that the company's UK arm, which has just completed its second year of operation, had not grown as "quickly" as he had anticipated, but it had performed "as well as any other part of the group".

Gross written premiums rose by 16% according to the group's preliminary results for 2005 published this week. This was below the expected 25% growth.

"I anticipate better things for 2006," said Catlin.

The Catlin Group saw net income plumet from $173.9m to $19.7m in 2005, with net incurred losses from the three major US hurricanes reaching $333.5m.

The group's combined ratio deteriorated from 89.4% to 103.1%

It said it intends to raise £38m of capital through a 5% equity placing with another $150m expected through subordinated debt.