Sept. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Lloyd’s of London, the world’s oldest insurance market, reported a 9.8 percent drop in first- half profit as investment returns slumped.
Profit fell to 1.38 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) in the six months to June 30 from 1.53 billion pounds a year earlier, the London-based market said today in a statement. Investment returns plunged 60 percent to 247 million pounds.
“The real story for our results is the investment income, which is significantly down,” Chief Executive Officer Richard Ward said in an interview on Bloomberg Television in London. “We saw yields rise slightly on our bond portfolio. We took a mark-to-market hit on our capital position. Over time that will reverse out.”
Insurers have been sideswiped by the Federal Reserve’s plan to scale back debt purchases as rising Treasury yields erode the value of their short-term investments. Lloyds participants Catlin Group Ltd., Beazley Plc and Brit Insurance Holdings BV all saw their investment returns fall more than 70 percent after U.S. borrowing costs rose in June.
Gross written premiums rose almost 5 percent to 15.5 billion pounds, boosted by movement in exchange rates. The combined ratio, or claims and expenses as a percentage of premiums, fell to 86.9 percent from 88.7 percent a year earlier, indicating improved underwriting.
“This is a good result for the Lloyd’s market, although the volatility of the insurance business means that we must remain cautious about how the full year result will turn out,” Chairman John Nelson said in the statement.
--With assistance from Mark Barton in London. Editors: Keith Campbell, Simone Meier.