SVB Holdings chief executive Matthew Fosh branded 2000 as the "epicentre of toxicity" which had caused SVB Holdings to record a £110.1m loss in its year-end results.

The results are the worst in the current Lloyd's results calendar and came after the company reported a £17.8m surplus in 2003.

Fosh said that despite a "tough year" SVB had underlying underwriting profits of £80m.

But a bill totalling more than £70m from discontinued US liability business arrived on the doorstep at the last minute and wiped out the profit margin.

Fosh said that the company's two core subsidiaries Fusion and Novae showed good progress in 2004, contributing more than a quarter of the company's premium income of £142m.

Fosh said Fusion was aiming to create £50m in premium income in 2005, through improved technology and customer service.

He failed to rule out a possible merger between the companies, saying that it wasn't on the cards just yet but "you never know".