Zurich will not follow in AXA's footsteps and begin a broker acquisition drive, the insurer's UK chief executive revealed this week.

Guy Munnoch did not rule out further acquisitions in the UK but insisted they would be "tactical" rather than "transformational".

"We will acquire if it suits our strategy," said Munnoch.

Last December, Zurich purchased the remaining 55% of broker Endsleigh. It already owned 45%. The acquisition suited Zurich's strategy, said Munnoch.

Meanwhile, Zurich's UK general insurance business reported a 20% rise in profits for 2006, this week. Operating profit surged to £323m for the year compared to £277m in 2005.

The record profits come after a year of change at the insurer which saw Munnoch replace Ian Stuart as chief executive and an overhaul of its operational structure.

The combined ratio improved by four points to 92.1%, but gross written premiums remained flat year-on-year at £2,065m.

"While the market was challenging, our continued focus on financial discipline and pricing integrity, supported by the Zurich Way, continued to be key to our success," said Munnoch.

He predicted the market cycle would continue this year with Zurich following Norwich Union's lead by raising motor rates. Liability rates would follow suit later this year, he forecast.

Globally the group reported a net income of $4.5bn, an increase of 41%.

Operating profit rose to $5.9bn, an increase of 48%.