Last update: Tue, 09 Feb 2016 08am

Lloyd's of London 2014 profits flat, returns fall

The Lloyd's of London insurance market posted unchanged profits for 2014 and a lower return on capital, pressured by increasing competition. Ninety-four syndicates underwrite insurance at Lloyd's, housed in one of the most recognisable buildings in London's main financial district, with listed companies including Catlin , Hiscox and Amlin.

Lloyd's of London posted a pre-tax profit of 3.2 billion pounds ($4.76 billion) for 2014, it said on March 26, unchanged from the previous year.

Its return on capital dropped to 14.7 percent from 16.2 percent.

Insurance underwriters tend to perform less well in the absence of major catastrophes, as insurance premiums fall.

New players such as hedge funds in the reinsurance sector, which helps insurers pay large damage claims in exchange for part of the premium, have also made the sector increasingly competitive.

"This is a strong set of results for Lloyd's, despite challenging market conditions," Chief Executive Inga Beale said. "The robust performance of the market in 2014 reflects a collective achievement of which we should be proud."

Lloyd's of London is looking to develop business in emerging markets, where industry specialists also said there is rising competition. It opened operations in Dubai and China this month.

The market's combined ratio, a measure of profitability showing how much of insurance premiums are paid out in claims and expenses, weakened.

The ratio - for which a level below 100 percent indicates a profit - rose to 88.1 percent from 86.8 percent in 2013. Gross written premiums dropped to 25.3 billion pounds in 2014 from 25.6 billion pounds the previous year.

Copyright Reuters, 2015