Turnaround at insurer improves case for increasing capacity

SVB group clawed its way back into profit in the first six months, giving bosses the ammunition to try to talk shareholders into supporting a capital raising.

The group made a pre-tax profit of £1.6m, up from a £47.3m loss in the same period last year.

The turnaround came without a substantial increase in capacity which many other Lloyd's operators were now enjoying.

SVB's gross written premiums increased by just £6.1m, to £309.3m from £303.2m the time before.

Chief executive Rupert Villers said: "We would like this business to have a greater scale.

"We are going to talk to our shareholders about what the appropriate scale is for SVB."

The group's overall combined ratio improved to 107.3% from 140.9% and Villers said SVB needed more capital to make further progress in driving it down.

The property book soon returned SVB's best combined ratio of 93.2%.

But its core specialty lines lagged behind at 114% .

SVB's investment return boomed to £8.6m from £1m the time before, largely due to the group exiting equities a year ago and which Villers described as a welcome piece of luck.

Villers was "delighted" with distribution subsidiary Fusion, which pulled in £20.5m of gross written premiums.

This was an increase on the £2.3m of gross written premium it achieved in the same period last year as the new company established itself.

It was profitable in the first half of the year, ahead of expectations.