26 BNP PARIBAS

Address:

Pinnacle House

A1 Barnet Way

Borehamwood

Herts

WD6 2XX

T: 020 8207 9000

F: 020 8953 6222

E: info@pinnacle.co.uk

W: www.pinnacle.co.uk

Chief officer: Norman Shuker, chief executive

Year established: 1971

Major shareholders: BNP Paribas

Number of UK employees: 650

Main lines of business: Creditor, warranty, investment products, special risks insurance, and a range of general insurance products

Company history: Formed in 1971 as Pinnacle Insurance plc, Cardif Pinnacle, as it is now known, forms part of global banking group, BNP Paribas. The trading style, Cardif Pinnacle, incorporates the name of Pinnacle's longstanding parent company, Cardif SA.

Cardif Pinnacle continues to be one of the UK's leading providers of creditor, warranty and special risks insurance which has in more recent years diversified into a range of other protection-based products including medical cash plans, sports injury, pet healthcare, accidental death, personal accident and income replacement cover.

The Cardif Pinnacle Group has also established itself as a broad based supplier of financial services and investment products.

Parental links with BNP Paribas have helped Cardif Pinnacle to develop business outside the UK in Ireland, Sweden and the Republic of South Africa.

Chief officer Biography: After graduating, Norman Shuker worked for a city investment bank before qualifying as an actuary while working for insurer Canon Lincoln. He then became a consulting actuary and, in 1984, Shuker joined Financial Insurance Group where he met Christopher Schwick, Cardif Pinnacle's current deputy chairman.

In 1989 he and Schwick took control of Pinnacle Insurance, a composite insurance company with a premium income of £3m.

Shuker was joint chief executive with Christopher Schwick from 1989 to 2002 and currently leads the senior management team as Cardif Pinnacle's chief executive.

27 ST PAUL TRAVELLERS

Address:

61-63 London Road

Redhill

Surrey

RH1 1NA

T: 01737 787 787

f: 01737 787 172

e: pjelliot@stpaultravelers.com

w: www.stpaultravelers.co.uk

Chief officer: Martin Hudson, chief executive

Year established: 1853

Number of UK offices: 5

Number of UK employees: 400

Number of UK general insurance agents: 650

Major shareholders: A wholly-owned subsidiary of The St Paul Travelers Companies, Inc

Main lines of business: Property; employers' liability; public liability; products liability; business interruption; professional indemnity; directors' and officers'; and marine

Subsidiaries: St Paul Travelers Professional Risks

Company history: St Paul Travelers Insurance Co is part of The St Paul Travelers Companies, a leading property and liability insurance organisation formed through the merger of The St Paul Companies and Travelers Property Casualty Corp in April 2004.

Today, The St Paul Travelers group has assets worth around $110bn and achieves consistently high independent credit ratings for its financial strength and ability to pay claims.

In the UK, St Paul Travelers provides a range of property and liability insurance products aimed at the electronics and other technology related industries; the motor trade; the transportation industry; local authorities; private hospitals; clinics and medical services companies; universities and colleges; manufacturing companies; property investors; and various professions including solicitors, architects, advertising agencies and chartered surveyors.

Chief officer Biography: Martin Hudson started work at a Lloyd's syndicate in 1977 and moved to the St Katherine Insurance Company in 1980. This was subsequently acquired by The St Paul Companies, Inc - a large US insurer based in Saint Paul, Minnesota - in 1988. Between 1977 and 1990 his main area of activity was liability insurance and reinsurance in North America.

In 1990, St Paul decided to enter the specialised UK 'business to business' insurance market, and Hudson was one of the early founders of the new greenfield operation. He conducted the new product research, development and launch programme until 1995 when he became the leader of this growing organisation, which has progressed from its start-up to over £230m of gross premiums today.

In 2002, Hudson was also appointed chief executive of the company's Lloyd's operation whose capacity for 2006 is £250m.

In 2004, The St Paul Companies merged with Travelers Property Casualty to form the St Paul Travelers group.

St Paul Travelers in the UK is widely recognised as a knowledgeable, focused and innovative organisation.

Other key personnel: David Bevan, general manager - agency, sales and marketing. Paul Cusition, general manager - professional risks. Martin Dyer, general manager - IT. Mike Gent, general manager - finance. Alistair Gunn, company secretary. Sarah Houston, general manager - HR. Justin Poulter, general manager - IT. Keith Purvis, general manager - commercial lines. Geoff Sayers, general manager - claims. Simon Sheaf, general manager - actuarial. Keith Tomkins - chief actuarist.

28 ECCLESIASTICAL

Address:

Beaufort House

Brunswick Road

Gloucester

GL1 1JZ

t: 01452 528 533

f: 01452 423 557

e: ecclesiastical@eigmail.com

w: www.ecclesiastical.co.uk

Chief officer: Michael Tripp

Year established: 1887

Major shareholders: Allchurches Trust

Number of UK offices: 7

Number of UK employees: 859

Main lines of business: General insurance and financial services

Subsidiaries: The Churches Purchasing Scheme; Ecclesiastical Insurance Office; Ecclesiastical Underwriting Management; Ecclesiastical Group Asset Management; Ecclesiastical Insurance Management Services; Aldwych Management Services; Ecumenical Insurance Company; EIO Trustees. Ecclesiastical Life - Allchurches Investment Management Services; Hinton and Wild. EIG Ansvar (Australia) - EIG (New Zealand); EIG Ansvar Life (New Zealand). Ansvar Insurance Company - Crusade Services; Ansvar Pensions

Company history: Ecclesiastical Buildings Fire Office was founded more than a century ago to meet the needs of the Anglican Church. It has grown to offer a range of general insurance products and financial services as Ecclesiastical Insurance Office.

Today it is also a leading insurer of independent schools, charities and care homes, as well as churches. Additionally, Ecclesiastical has extended its activities into other areas, particularly commercial insurances of all types and a wide range of personal lines products.

A specialist schemes department also writes a significant amount of intermediary business across a wide range of business classes. Ecclesiastical operates both nationally and internationally.

Chief officer Biography: Michael Tripp, BSc, FIA (51) has been appointed to succeed Graham Doswell as Ecclesiastical's new group chief executive. Michael will officially take up board and executive responsibilities on 1st January 2007, subject to regulatory approval.

Michael is currently a partner with the global professional services practice, Ernst and Young LLP, with responsibility for the firm's property and casualty actuarial team for the UK company market.

A qualified actuary, he has more than 30 years' experience in the insurance industry. Prior to joining the consultancy profession in 1999, Michael held director level appointments at Guardian Royal Exchange in the areas of strategic planning and business development, including the establishment of Guardian Health.

29 HIGHWAY INSURANCE HOLDINGS

Address:

Highway House

171 Kings Road

Brentwood

Essex CM77 7ZJ

t: 0870 443 1111

f: 01277 263651

w: www.highway-insurance.co.uk

Year established: 1995

Number of UK offices: 5

Number of UK employees: 629

Major shareholders:

J O Hambro Capital Management (19.31%)

Fidelity Investments (7.32%)

UBS (7.31%)

Aberforth Partners' Clients (5.13%)

David Coleridge (3.68%)

Legal & General (3.55%)

Main lines of business:

Motor insurance:

Highway Choice Private Car

Highway Choice Commercial Vehicle

Highway Choice Motorcycle

Fleet

Fleetway

Highway Choice Trucks

Highway Choice Motor Trade

Specialist

Subsidiaries: The principal subsidiaries are: Highway Insurance Company ; A Quote Insurance Services; Direct Motorline; Elite Underwriting

Key Personnel: Ross Dunlop - executive chairman. Chris Hill - managing director, Highway Insurance. Paul Cosh - managing director, Highway Retail. Ian Patrick - group finance and operations director.

Company history: In 1995 market research led management to build a specialist motor insurance business, based on relationships with insurance brokers and other intermediaries. In 2003, Highway exited Lloyd's and now underwrites exclusively through Highway Insurance Company.

Today, Highway comprises two divisions: insurance and retail.

Highway Insurance is the 'insurer of choice' for motor. It is one of the UK's most profitable motor insurers. In 2005, Highway will have more than 600,000 customers, representing total premium of £265m. Highway is one of the few insurers to offer its products exclusively through intermediaries.

In June 2004, Highway Retail was established in order to acquire and develop a number of UK brokers, improve its earning stream and smooth the impact of the underwriting cycle. Today, Highway Retail has more than 100,000 customers. The current management team remains focused on tight financial controls and the creation and realisation of significant shareholder value.

30 HISCOX

Address:

1 Great St Helen's

London

EC3A 6HX

t: 020 7448 6000

f: 020 7448 6900

e: enquiry@hiscox.com

w: www.hiscox.com

Chief Executive officer: Bronislaw E Masojada, chief executive

Year established: 1901

Number of UK offices: 8

Number of UK employees: 660 Approx

Number of UK general insurance agents: 662

Major shareholders:

Amvescap plc

Fidelity International Limited

Barclays plc

Legal & General Group plc

Morley Fund Management Ltd

Main lines of business: High value household; professional and speciality commercial insurances for small-to-medium-sized enterprises.

Company history: Hiscox has been underwriting for 100 years and is listed on the London Stock Exchange where it has a market capitalisation of circa £550m.

Hiscox is a specialist insurer and concentrates on business where brains make a difference to each transaction. The Hiscox Insurance Company has two specialities of higher value household business and business risks for specific professions, distributed via offices in the UK - in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Maidenhead and Colchester.

Recent events: Opening of Hiscox USA and Hiscox Bermuda.

Chief officer Biography: Bronislaw Masojada joined the Hiscox Group as managing director in 1993. He became managing director of Hiscox in July 1996 and then chief executive of Hiscox in 2000.

He is currently a deputy chairman of Lloyd's and has recently been appointed president of the Insurance Institute of London.

Prior to joining Hiscox, Masojada worked at McKinsey & Co, serving a range of manufacturing, consumer goods and financial services clients in London, Sydney and Tokyo.

He was part of the McKinsey team that advised the Rowland Task Force in 1991 and assisted Lloyd's in the preparation of the business plan in 1993.

Other key personnel: Robert Hiscox, chairman. Stuart Bridges, finance director. Robert Childs, director of underwriting. Sue Langley, chief operating officer

31 LA MUTUELLE DU MANS

Address:

Norman Place

Reading

RG1 8DA

T: 0118 955 2222

F: 0118 955 2211

E: info@mma-insurance.com

W: www.mma-insurance.com

Chief officer: Garry Fearn, chief executive, MMA Insurance

Year established: 1958

Major shareholders: Les Mutuelles du Mans Assurances

Number of UK offices: 1

Number of UK employees (2004): 300+

Main lines of business: Household; mid net worth; commercial property owners; residential property owners (single and multi premises); small business liability; shops; offices; surgeries; commercial van; motor trade; private motor

32 MARKEL CORPORATION

UK address:

49 Leadenhall Street

London

EC3A 2EA

t: 020 7953 6000

f: 020 7953 6001

e: gerry.albanese@markelintl.com

w: www.markelintl.com

Chief officer: Gerry Albanese, president and chief operating officer, Markel International

Year established: 2000

Number of UK offices: 8

Number of UK employees: 425

Main lines of business: Specialty - property; financial institutions; accident and health; contingency and casualty lines written on a direct, facultative, excess of loss and proportional reinsurance basis.

Non-marine property - a wide range of property covers is written on a direct and reinsurance basis, including open market and delegated authority facilities.

Professional liability - professional and financial risk covers, including professional indemnity and directors' and officers' liability.

Marine and energy - a portfolio of primary covers for energy, marine liability, hull, war, protection and indemnity, specie and cargo risks.

Markel (UK) - Markel's UK provincial operation provides professional and management risk cover and a range of commercial property/package products via offices in Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Reigate.

Syndicates: Markel International Insurance Company, Markel Syndicate 3000, Mint Canadian Specialty Underwriters

Company history: Markel International is the London-based subsidiary for the international operations of Markel Corporation, the international property and casualty insurance group headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. Founded in the early part of the twentieth century, Markel Corporation wrote gross premiums of $2.4bn in 2005 and has a market capitalisation of about $3.5bn. Markel International wrote gross premiums of $641m in 2005.

Chief officer Biography: Gerry Albanese has been president and chief operating officer of Markel International since July 2003. Albanese joined Markel Corporation's North American subsidiary, Shand Morahan and Company, in 1984 as product line manager in the insurance company errors and omissions department. From 1996 he served as chief underwriting officer at Shand Morahan. Prior to joining Markel, Albanese was with both the Hartford Insurance Company and AIG in New York.

33 HSBC HOLDINGS

Address:

Wigham House

Wakering Road

Barking

Essex IG11 8PB

t: 020 8911 5000

f: 020 8911 5199

w: www.hsbc.com"

Chief officer: Martyn Capewell, chief executive

Major shareholders: HSBC

Number of UK offices: 4

Number of UK employees: 320

Main lines of business: Motor/household/school fees

Company history: HSBC Insurance (UK), formerly Corinthian Insurance Company, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of HSBC Insurance Holdings. The business was initially operated as a Lloyd's syndicate and was known as Corinthian Policies at Lloyd's. It commenced trading in 1964 and offered only motor insurance.

The company is divided into several trading names, each offering a different class of motor insurance, as well as high net worth household and school fees protection. Corinthian Policies at Lloyd's was acquired by HSBC at the beginning of 1996 and initially became known as HSBC Insurance (Ireland), trading as Corinthian. During 1998 a successful application to HM Treasury Insurance Directorate (now the FSA) established Corinthian Insurance Company, which subsequently changed its name to HSBC Insurance (UK) on 1 January 2005.

Business is sourced on both a standalone basis from the broker market, together with parental channel flow customer capabilities.

HSBC Insurance Holdings acquired HFC Bank in early 2003. This included the operations of Hamilton Insurance.

Chief officer Biography: Martyn Capewell, deputy underwriter of the syndicate since 1987, was appointed chief executive of the new entity in 1996. Capewell is a Fellow of the CII and has also been appointed to the board of the Motor Insurers' Bureau and Motor Insurance Information Centre.

34 LOEWS GROUP

UK address:

CNA

77 Gracechurch Street

London

EC3V 0DL

t: 020 7522 6700

f: 020 7626 7444

e: infouk@cnaeurope.com

w: www.cnaeurope.com

Chief officer: Julian Enoizi, managing director

Major shareholder: CNA Financial Corporation

Number of UK offices: 6

Number of UK employees: 150

Main lines of business: Marine cargo, property, casualty, travel and personal accident, financial institutions, professional indemnity, commercial crime, directors' and officers' liability

Company history: CNA was formed in 1897, with headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. The company is now one of the largest insurance companies in the US with assets in excess of $60bn and global revenues in excess of $10bn. It is also among the world's largest writers of property and casualty insurance. CNA has 11,000 employees worldwide.

Globally CNA provides businesses and individuals with a broad range of insurance products and risk management services. In Europe, CNA is recognised as a leading insurer of specialist risks and a provider of innovative products, distributed through offices in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and, increasingly, across borders into the wider EU.

The CNA group is rated 'A' for financial strength by AM Best. In Europe, CNA is rated 'A-' by Standard & Poor's.

Chief officer Biography: Julian Enoizi read law and French law at the University of Birmingham and graduated with an honours degree in July 1989. He then studied at the College of Law in London, qualifying as a solicitor in 1990.

Enoizi completed his articles at law firm Berwin Leighton. He also studied the basic principles of Italian law and spent time on secondment working in Milan for Studio Legale Carnelutti, Italy's premier law firm.

On qualification Enoizi opened and developed the firm's office in Brussels. Enoizi joined Chubb Insurance Company of Europe in September 1995 as an in-house lawyer dealing with directors' and officers' liability insurance claim litigation emanating from all Chubb's European offices. He became vice president in 1999. In May 2000, Enoizi joined AIG Europe as vice president and deputy general counsel based in Paris.

In June 2002 Enoizi joined CNA Europe Holdings as both general counsel and head of its Continental European operation. In October 2005 Enoizi was appointed to the board and appointed chief executive.

Enoizi is fluent in both Italian and French and also speaks Spanish and some German. His interests include golf, tennis, theatre and politics. He has represented an association of Italians living abroad. He is a member of the British Italian Lawyers Association, the Solicitors European Group and was, until recently, an active participant in the Financial Services Sub-Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce and the International Chamber of Commerce's Insurance sub-committee.

35 BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY

Address:

Fourth Floor

20 Birchin Lane

London EC3V 9DU

T: 020 7456 1800

e: brkhathlon@aol.com

berkshire@berkshirehathaway.com

Chief officer: Tom Bolt, managing director

Year established: 1996

Number of UK offices: 4

Number of UK employees: 185

Number of UK general insurance agents: 1,200

Major shareholders: National Indemnity Company

Main lines of business: Reinsurance, UK motor, liability, property, aviation

Company history: Started in 1996 as a motor underwriter, trading as Holdsure and Enterprise.

Other key personnel: Stewart Jenkinson, underwriting manager. David Ussher, underwriting manager - Northern Ireland and Scotland. Sharon Gray, claims manager. Carl Cripps, motor claims manager.

36 ARCH INSURANCE COMPANY (EUROPE)

Address:

2nd Floor North

Crosby Court

38 Bishopsgate

London

EC2N 4AF

T: 020 7562 3100

F: 020 7562 3101/3165

E: info@archinsurance.co.uk

w: www.archinsurance.co.uk

Chief officer: Robert van Gieson, chief executive

Lines of business: Accident & health: Contingency, Personal Accident, Travel. Executive assurance: Directors & officers liability, Financial institutions, Professional liability. General property. Liability. Marine: Fine Art & Specie, Marine & Aviation War, Marine & Energy, Liabilities, Marine Hull & Machinery, Offshore Energy. Onshore energy/technical risks.

Company history: Arch Insurance Company (Europe) Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Arch Capital Group, a Bermuda-based company which provides insurance and reinsurance on a worldwide basis through its subsidiaries in Bermuda, the United States of America, Canada and Europe.

Formed in May 2004, Arch Europe is authorised and regulated by the FSA and provides specialised property and casualty insurance programmes to a wide range of commercial customers and financial institutions outside the USA.

Chief officer Biography:

Robert Van Gieson president & chief executive officer, has more than 35 years of international insurance industry experience. Most recently, he served as CEO of CNA's global operations, where he spearheaded the successful integration of six non-aligned strategic business units with total revenues of $1.25 billion and total staff of 2,500.

37 CATLIN INSURANCE

Address:

3 Minster Court

Mincing Lane

London

EC3R 7DD

t: 020 7626 0486

f: 020 7623 9101

e: info@catlin.com

w: www.catlin.com

Chief officers:

Catlin Syndicate: Paul Jardine, chief executive

Catlin UK: Andreas Loucaides, chief executive

Year established: Catlin Syndicate, 1985; Catlin UK, 2004

Number of UK offices: 4 (London, Glasgow, Leeds, Derby)

Number of UK employees: Approximately 300

Major shareholder: Catlin Group

Main lines of business: Catlin Syndicate: property reinsurance, non-marine binding authorities, political risk and terrorism; Catlin UK: UK professional indemnity; UK general liability; UK commercial property

Company history: The origins of Catlin Group date back to 1984 when Catlin Underwriting Agencies (CUAL) was established by Stephen Catlin to manage newly formed Lloyd's marine Syndicate 1003, which commenced underwriting for the 1985 year of account on behalf of capital provided by traditional Lloyd's Names.

From 1985 to 1995 Syndicate 1003 grew under CUAL's management from a start-up operation with premium capacity of £6m ($10m) into one of the largest syndicates trading at Lloyd's with capacity of £170m ($304m).

In 1995 following an investment in the group by Western General Insurance of Bermuda for a majority ownership stake, Syndicate 2003, now known as the Catlin Syndicate, was formed to write in parallel with Syndicate 1003 for the 1996 Lloyd's year of account under the common management of CUAL.

In late 2002 the group purchased the residual capacity of Syndicate 1003 from Lloyd's Names and other external capital providers. This capacity was consolidated into Syndicate 2003, thereby further increasing its capacity.

In 2002 the group raised $482m in equity capital through the sale of equity interests in Catlin Group to a consortium of private investors in two separate tranches. This additional capital was used to fund the group's establishment of its corporate underwriting platforms, to purchase the entire capacity of Syndicate 1003 from external capital providers and to increase the underwriting capacity of the Catlin Syndicate.

In December 2003 the group received FSA approval to establish Catlin UK (the UK branch of Catlin Insurance Company) and began to underwrite through this third platform in January 2004. In March 2005 the FSA approved the establishment of Catlin Insurance Company (UK) as a subsidiary of Catlin Insurance Company. The new company will operate under the Catlin UK banner. Catlin UK is now able to underwrite business in all member nations of the European Economic Area.

The Catlin Group's shares were listed on the London Stock Exchange in April 2004. The initial public offering of primary common shares raised $200m, gross of expenses.

Over the past decade, the Catlin Group has expanded internationally to keep pace with the global nature of the specialty insurance and reinsurance marketplace.

It has also opened UK offices in Glasgow (2001), Leeds (2003) and Derby (2003), which underwrite on behalf of Catlin UK.

Chief officer Biographies: Paul Jardine joined Prudential Assurance Company as an actuarial student and subsequently an actuary.

Jardine moved to Coopers & Lybrand in 1987 as a manager in the actuarial insurance services group. He was appointed a partner in 1993. During his nine years with Coopers & Lybrand he was involved almost exclusively with issues dealing with Lloyd's and the London insurance market with a particular focus on US casualty business and corresponding long-tail claims.

Jardine joined Equitas in 1996 as chief actuary. He was elected to the Equitas board in February 1999 and appointed to the additional post of commutations director. In 2001 he joined the Catlin Group with specific responsibility for the development of new financial products. He was appointed chief executive of the Catlin Syndicate in March 2003 and chief operating officer of the Catlin Group in February 2004.

Andreas Loucaides began his insurance career in 1971 at Lowndes Lambert Group as a treaty reinsurance broker. He joined British National Insurance Company in 1976 as outwards reinsurance manager. In 1981 he joined the RE Brown & Others Syndicate 702 at Lloyd's as an underwriter. He was promoted to deputy underwriter of the syndicate in 1986 and active underwriter in 2000.

Following the syndicate's acquisition by Markel Corporation, Loucaides spearheaded the formation of PRI Group in 2002 and later served as the company's chief executive.

Loucaides joined Catlin UK in January 2004 as chief executive.

Other key personnel: Catlin Syndicate: Tim Peters, finance director; Paul Brand, active underwriter. Catlin UK: Gary Pritchard, chief finance officer; Richard Clapham, underwriting director.

38 MILLEA HOLDINGS INC

Address:

150 Leadenhall Street

London

EC3V 4TE

t: 020 7283 8844

f: 020 7283 7354

e: info@tokiomarine.co.uk

w: www.tokiomarine.co.uk

Chief officer: Ken Kamikochi, chief executive, Tokio Marine Europe Insurance

Year established: 1970

Number of UK offices: 2

Number of UK employees: 86

Major shareholders: Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co

Main lines of business: Marine, property and casualty

UK subsidiaries: Tokio Marine Europe, Tokio Marine Management Services

Company history:

1970 - Founded as The Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Company (UK).

2002 - Changed name to Tokio Marine Europe Insurance Company

Chief officer Biography: In 2004, Ken Kamikochi was senior general manager, commercial underwriting department, The Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Co. In 2004 he became chief executive, Tokio Marine Europe Insurance.

Other key personnel: Shalimar Turner, company secretary. Kuni Higashi, chief financial officer. Pierre-Andre Camps, general manager, corporate planning and risk management. Nao Muramatsu, general manager, corporate technical unit. Ron Waite, general manager, UK division

39 ALEA GROUP HOLDINGS

Address:

London Underwriting Centre

3 Minster Court

Mincing Lane

London EC3R 7DD

United Kingdom

T: 020 7621 3100

F: 020 7621 3150

w: www.aleagroup.com

40 DEXUA SA

Address:

1 Angel Court

London

EC2R 7AE

T: 020 7796 4646

F: 020 7796 3540

E: info@fsa.com

W: www.fsa.com

Chief officer: Robert P Cochran, Financial Security Assurance

Year established: 1985

Major shareholder: Dexia

Number of UK offices: 1

Number of UK employees (2003): 44

Main lines of business: Financial guaranty insurance (monoline)

Company history: Financial Security Assurance (FSA) provides Aaa/AAA financial guarantees for local government debt, public sector project financing, asset-backed securities and structured financings in world markets.

The unconditional and irrevocable FSA guaranty assures timely payment of principal and interest to bond investors or direct lenders.

A separately capitalised member of the Dexia group, FSA operates primarily in North America, Europe and developed countries of the Asia Pacific region. Its UK subsidiary is called Financial Security Assurance (UK).

Founded in New York in 1985 with capital from a group of institutional investors, it pioneered the use of financial guarantees in the asset-backed securities market.

In 1990 it entered the US municipal bond market, where it has also become a leader. Its holding company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1994, was acquired by Dexia in 2000.

FSA financial guaranty insurance is rated AAA by Fitch, Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Rating and Investment Information Inc.

Chief officer Biography: Robert Cochran is chairman and chief executive of FSA. A founding principal of the company, he became president and chief executive in 1990 and chairman and chief executive in 1997.

He was initially the managing director of FSA's financial guaranty department, which originates and underwrites all of FSA's asset-backed and municipal financial guaranty business.

Before joining FSA, he was managing partner of the Washington DC office of law firm Kutak, Rock and Campbell.

He is a former chairman of the Association of Financial Guaranty Insurers.