Lloyd's is set to see a surge of interest from private investors wanting to put money into the market.

Its reputation for being the ruin of wealthy individual Names may be about to turn, as profits soar while stock market returns remain low.

Market sources indicate growing interest from individuals keen to join limited liability NameCos. The market is closed to new unlimited liability Names.

Data from rating agency Moody's and the Association of Lloyd's Members forecast a return on capacity for 2004 of 14%.

The beginnings of a trend were visible last year, as the amount of third party capital at Lloyd's increased from £3.4bn in 2002 to £4.1bn this year.

The new enthusiasm for joining Lloyd's was illustrated by one source, who described an investor applying late last year. "Lloyd's said they wanted a cheque for £10m, really to discourage him.

"To everyone's amazement, he came up with it."