QBE's Lloyd's division posted a combined ratio of 96.6% for last year, an improvement on its 2001 figure of 108.6%.

The operation, which trades as Limit, made a net profit after tax of A$68m (£26m), up from A$5m (£1.9m) in 2001 and wrote gross premiums of A$2.3bn (£880m), up 4% from A$2.2bn (£840m) the previous year.

Much of the improvement came from its inward reinsurance operation which achieved a combined ratio of 87.6%, down from 117.9% in 2001, while its general insurance combined ratio was 101.1% compared to 104.6%.

Property writing brought in the largest share of gross earned premiums, at 38.7% up from 18.8% in 2001, next came casualty on 22.7%, down from 29.8% the previous year.

The group's European companies division, which includes the group's non-Lloyd's insurance and reinsurance London operations, made a combined operating ratio of 98.9%, down from 119.1% in 2001.

Its GWP increased by 12% to A$2.2bn from A$2bn in 2001 and its combined ratio was 98.9%, a significant improvement over the previous year's figure of 119.1%.

The group made an insurance profit of A$406m compared with a loss of A$119m the year before. The group's GWP grew by 14% to A$7.72bn from A$6.79bn.