Unitas member

Unitas member
East Anglian-based broker Ryan Insurance Group has become the ninth member of Unitas. Unitas chief executive Les Jackson said the addition of the Ryan Group takes Unitas into East Anglia, a new geographical area, and gives the group extra strength and credibility.

CSC conference
Computer Sciences Corporation is holding a one-day conference for its user-base and business partners called "21st Century Business". The event will be held at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham, and will look at emerging technologies, shifting customer patterns and customer relationship management. Speakers will include BBC1 Business Breakfast presenter Tanya Beckett and Thomas Power an ebusiness author and commentator.

Consultancy Arthur Andersen and insurer Aegon UK are sponsoring "Conference 2000 – Facing the challenges" for insurance internal auditors. The event will be held in Edinburgh, running from October 4 to October 6 and will address business needs, developments and issues. Arthur Andersen's Eamonn Rice said the conference will look at the value internal audits bring to firms as well as new challenges such as ecommerce.

Finance first for 2488
Syndicate 2488, the underwriting vehicle of ACE Global Markets, has been assigned an Aa2 (Excellent) rating by Moody's Investors Service. It is the first time a Lloyd's syndicate has been assigned a financial strength rating. The rating is said to reflect the leading position of the syndicate within the market, the varied nature of the book of business and the strong managment and underwriting skills. Syndicate 2488 is the largest syndicate trading at Lloyd's, with a capacity of $1bn (£672m) and estimated gross premium written in excess of $900m (£605m).

Hiscox finance rating goes up
Hiscox Insurance financial rating has been upped ‘triple B-plus' from ‘triple-B' by credit analysis and information providers Standard & Poor's. The rise has been attributed to the company's improved operating performance and prospective capital position. It also has strong capitalisation and good financial flexibility derived from its parent, Hiscox PLC. The outlook on the ratings has also changed – to stable from positive.

Early bath for Helphire staff
HELPHIRE is to make 30 to 40 former Countrywide Assistance staff redundant after relocating the call centre to Bath. Helphire deputy chief executive Mark Jackson said the redundancies are part of a planned programme to relocate Countrywide Assistance from Peterborough to Bath. Countrywide's 70 staff were notified of the decision earlier this year and some accepted the offer of alternative posts at Bath and Leeds. Helphire bought Countrywide from Misys in1998.

Buy-to-lets still rising
The popularity of buy-to-let mortgages continued to grow in the first six months of the year, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. In that period a total 19,300 loans worth £1.6bn were advanced, its latest survey shows. This compares with 19,200 loans worth £1.5bn in the first half of 1999.
At the end of June, more than 80,000 buy-to-let mortgages had been taken out, with a total value of £8bn said the CML.