QBE Group saw its profits double to A$572m (£237.7m) for the year ending 31 December 2003, up from A$279m for 2002, with pre-tax profit increasing 146% to A$765m.

Insurance profit increased by half, said QBE, up from A$406m for 2002 to A$627m. Gross written premium grew by 8% to A$8.3bn with net earned premiums up 7% on 2002 to A$6.04bn.

Within QBE's European operations, gross written premiums grew by 9% to A$2.44bn, with net earned premium up 10% to A$1.9bn. In sterling, the premium growth rates were 17% and 23% respectively, said QBE.

The combined ratio for the group was 93.8%, compared with 97.7% for 2002.