Qbe posts a 28% increase in net profit after tax for the six months to December 31, 2000, to $101m (£36m)

For the calendar year to December 31, net profit was $179m (£64m), up 36% from $132m (£47m) in 1999.

The acquisition of Iron Trades and the Lloyd's managing agent Limit contributed to an 80% rise in growth to $2.5bn (£896m), and net earned premium, which increased 68% to $1,9bn (£685m).

QBE's managing director Frank O'Halloran said: “The acquisitions and initiatives over the past 18 months have been very positive for growth and profitability and have provided the group with a strong base to take advantage of the current upturn in the

insurance cycle.”

He added: “Our technical insurance results were particularly pleasing, with one of the best results ever recorded by our general insurance operations in Australia.”