Royal & SunAlliance underwriters will remain "steadfast" against any pressures from a softening market, according to UK chief executive Duncan Boyle.

Speaking last week, after R&SA posted first quarter results on its general insurance business above expectations, Boyle said: "There is clearly some ill-discipline in the overall market at the moment, but R&SA will stick to its guns.

"We will stay firm with our technical underwriting performance and take business at the right price."

He said the combined ratio for the UK group was "going in the right direction" at 94.5%. Overall for the first quarter of 2004, the combined ratio for its commercial business was 91.3%, and personal lines business 99.9%.

Operating profit for the group was £148m for the first quarter, compared with £175m for the corresponding period of 2003. This compares with a range of £125m - £150m predicted by analysts.

Direct arm More Th>n reported a combined ratio of 103% and Boyle said the "growth potential is strong". It now has 1.4 million customers and three million policies, and the company said it had achieved "good contract wins in target areas". Boyle would not specify further.

Rick Hudson appointed to R&SA US risk job

Royal & SunAlliance's UK group risk director Rick Hudson has been given a six-month contract in its US division.

According to the company, Hudson will be acting as a risk consultant for the US division, which is still wrestling with its reserve issues.

Hudson and his team in the UK were instrumental, along with group chief executive Andy Haste, in broking the deal with the FSA over potential liabilities in its life business. This has now opened the door for potential bidders to buy the company's life business.