More opportunity from small US risks than big Lloyd’s business

Growth in the US and a surge in investment returns helped Lloyd’s insurer Beazley towards a 61.5% pre-tax profit boost in the first half of the year.

Beazley – which manages five Lloyd’s syndicates and has operations in the US, Latin America, Asia and Australia – posted profits of $132.9m [£77.8m] in the six months to 30 June 2014.

It released $72.9m [£42.7m] of prior year reserves (2013: $60.8m) and saw investment returns grow from $0.3m to $46.8m [£27.4m].

Its combined ratio deteriorated by one point to 90%, however.

Gross written premiums in the first half rose by 1% to $1,077.7m [£631m] in what Beazley described as “a market that is becoming much more competitive for many lines of business”.

Premium growth came more from smaller business lines, which it often underwrote locally in the US, than its large risks business underwritten in London, where Beazley said competition had often been “intense”.

Chief executive Andrew Horton said: “Beazley performed well in the first half of the year, in a market that has become steadily more challenging.

“As we celebrate the tenth anniversary of our US operations, it is encouraging that we are seeing many of our best growth opportunities from our US based underwriters. At the same time we continue to attract talented underwriters to join Beazley on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Beazley increased its interim dividend from 2.9p to 3.1p.