Beazley profit falls; finance director to retire

Beazley PLC (BEZ.LN) said Friday that its first-half profit fell sharply due to lower investment returns but it delivered strong premium growth, and said its finance director is retiring.

The specialist insurer said it made a pretax profit of $57.5 million for the first half of 2018, down from $158.7 million in the year-earlier half.

The company said it made a 0.2% investment return for the half, as rising U.S. interest rates hit its bond portfolio. However, Beazley said the increased yield on its fixed-income investments should support better returns over the second half.

Beazley’s gross premiums written rose 15% to $1.32 billion. The company said it delivered topline growth across all five of its underwriting divisions, and overall insurance rates rose 3% with particularly strong growth in property insurance.

"We remain on target to achieve double digit premium growth this year, led by our specialty lines and catastrophe related business. Following the catastrophes of 2017, we will experience below average reserve releases from prior years during 2018," Chief Executive Andrew Horton said.

Beazley declared an interim dividend of 3.9 pence a share, up from 3.7 pence the prior year.

In a separate statement, Beazley said Finance Director Martin Bride will retire from the company in the second quarter of 2019, and it will immediately launch a search for his successor.

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