Wellington Underwriting's abortive attempt to acquire Lloyd's insurer Limit Insurance hit it hard, leaving it with a £1.5m operating loss for the first half of the year, after a £2.6m exceptional charge for the bid was taken into account.

The £2.6m also included certain redundancy costs for job cuts made in Wellington's sole Lloyd's professional indemnity and non-marine syndicate 2020. Four underwriting posts were axed after Wellington undertook a review of its business plan for 2020.

Pre-tax profits for the first six months of 2000 were more than £7.5m down on the same period in 1999, (£6.1m profit).

In a statement, chairman Ian Agnew sounded optimistic. He said: “I believe that these interim results mark the low point for the Wellington Group and are the product of the fiercest period of international competition for all classes of business that I have experienced in my career.”

Wellington said its new personal accident and UK commercial lines teams, which were recruited last year, were making good progress, as was its aviation division.

The group estimates these investments will contribute 20% of its written premium for this year.

Syndicate capacity for next year has been increased by 16% to £500m. Wellington said the increase in capacity would lead to an increase to £229m in the amount of capacity underwritten by its own capital.

UK anti-terrorism insurance will now be available over the internet, with brokers able to get quotations and policy wordings online. There are also plans for further online product launches.