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Byline: By NEIL HODGSON Industry Reporter

ANOTHER good first half has yielded strong results for insurance giant Royal & Sun Alliance, said chief executive Andy Haste today.

He unveiled a 12% rise in net written premiums of pounds 3.36bn for the six months to June 30.

Operating profits were up 9% to pounds 440mand pre-tax profits improved by 17%to pounds 395m, including profits on disposals of pounds 17m from recycled foreign exchange after the liquidation of a French subsidiary.

And the COR - the combined operating ratio which represents the amount of money spent on claims and costs for every pounds 1 of premiums taken - improved by 0.3 points, dropping from 93.3% last year to 93% for the previous six months.

The group, which employs nearly 2,000 staff in Liverpool, said it expects to achieve a better full-year COR than last year's 95% level.

Mr Haste also reported delivery of R&SA's targeted pounds 200m of annualised expense savings.

The international market provided most of the progress, accounting for 60% of the total figures with net written premiums for the past six months rising 23%to pounds 1.63bn compared with a 1% UK increase to pounds 1.378bn.

General insurance business More Th>n, which is based in Liverpool's Mercury Court, achieved a 3% premiums increase.

Emerging markets such as Asia and the Middle East, Latin America, the Baltics, India and Central and Eastern Europe improved net written premiums by 19% to pounds 351m.

Mr Haste also revealed that the group has no exposure to credit insured bonds, US municipal bonds or US sub prime residential mortgage backed securities.

He said: "It has been another good first half and we have once again delivered strong results in what are challenging trading and economic conditions.

"We remain confident in the group's ability to continue to deliver sustainable profitable performance.

"The outlook for the group is positive and this is reflected in the 10% increase in the interim dividend to 2.73p."
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 7, 2008
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