- Underwriter Beazley said Friday first-half gross premiums written increased 15% but profit before tax more than halved as investment income slumped.

Beazley also said that Martin Bride, Group Finance Director, had announced that he would retire from the company in the second-quarter of 2019. For the six months to 30 June, gross premiums written increased 15% to $1.32bn from $1.15bn, net premiums written rose 18% to $1.11bn from $0.94bn and pre-tax profit fell 64% to $57.5m.

Growth in premiums was led by the property division, which grew the fastest with a 25% increase to $243.4m from $194.1m.

Net investment income slumped to $8m for the period from $79.4m, which the company blamed on rising US interest rates. 'Our investment return in the first half was depressed by the impact of rising US interest rates on our bond portfolio, but we expect the rate rises seen in the first half of the year will help us deliver stronger returns going forward,' the company said. The combined ratio rose to 95% from 90%.

An interim dividend of 3.9p per share was proposed, up from 3.7p per share the same period a year ago. The company said it remained on target to achieve double digit premium growth and a combined ratio in the low to mid nineties for the full year.

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