Australian insurer QBE is losing four staff and reorganising its treaty division after rejigging the parts of the group that write retrocession and property.

But general manager of QBE's European company operations, Paul Glen, said the changes were part of a positive message that would shut up the company's critics.

Treaty division general manager Andrew Lothian resigned as a result of the changes.

The company had previously written retrocession business through both its own operations and its Lloyd's syndicates. It is now cutting the amount of retro written in its treaty division and will also lose Mark Bain, retro underwriter for the European company operation. The group will continue to write retro business through its Lloyd's syndicates.

Glen said: "We didn't want to write retro in more than one place and Peter Grove at Lloyd's is the person to do that. That's no reflection on Mark Bain."

Bain was the only European company member engaged in writing retro business.

The company also announced its US property business will be written only from its New York office and the group's Lloyd's syndicates.

Glen said Lothian resigned on 24 October before the changes were announced. His place has been taken by Des Fogarty, who previously ran the company's Dublin operation. Paul Moss becomes claims director for European company operations.

There will be two further redundancies within the firm's property team. "We are downsizing in the sense that we won't be writing US property business from this part of the operation, so effectively their jobs have gone," Glen said.

He said the changes were not a cost-cutting exercise, but were aimed to control the accumulation of property exposures across the group's operations.

The firm expected to write between £650m and £700m in gross written premiums next year, with the treaty division planning to write up to £250m in classes including agriculture, marine treaty and personal accident.

The European company operation will receive a £100m injection from its parent group, Glen said. The group has recently raised AUS$663m (£231m), which he said would put it in a good position to profit from hardening market conditions.

Referring to collapsed Australian insurer HIH, Glen said: "We always get tarnished with the Australian brush because of HIH. The capital-raising has gone a long way to shut a few people up, but the problem will be making the most of next year."

He said the rationalisation was not a defensive move being made by a company in trouble. "There are always people out there who want to see the negative in QBE. What this is about is making best use of the capital we've raised.

"After the World Trade Centre attacks, a lot of businesses are looking at where they were exposed and we're seeing what we can learn from this. This is about improving control and monitoring framework, so we have a better handle on where our accumulations build up. The way to do that is to stop writing the same sort of business from a number of different points within the group.

"We will be making profits next year, there's no doubt about that."