* Q1 gross premiums written rise 9 pct to $2.01 bln
* Q1 gross premiums written in international markets rise 19
(Adds analyst quote; updates share movement)
By Esha Vaish
May 14 Catlin Group Ltd, operator of the
biggest syndicate in the Lloyd's of London insurance market,
said it wrote 9 percent more premiums in the first quarter of
the year, driven largely by demand for reinsurance sold by
Catlin Re Switzerland.
The Bermuda-based company, which insures against everything
from flooding to kidnapping, said gross premiums written rose to
$2.01 billion from $1.84 billion a year earlier.
The company's international business, which comprises Asia
Pacific, Europe and Canada, recorded a 19 percent jump in gross
premiums written to $594 million.
The business accounted for about 30 percent of the company's
gross premiums written in the quarter ended March 31, up from 27
percent a year earlier.
Insurers have been able to grow premiums in the Asia-Pacific
region, a relatively untapped market, while cut-throat pricing
has made growth difficult in the United States and the UK.
Catlin said there were no catastrophe losses during the
quarter but it incurred a large single-risk loss related to the
disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
Authorities are yet to trace the aircraft, which disappeared
more than two months ago after straying miles off its designated
route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Peel Hunt analyst Mark Williamson estimated claims related
to the flight to be between $250 million and $350 million.
"It's not outside of (Catlin's) normal sort of pattern of
loss expectations ... it's not one of those losses that's going
to change forecasts at the moment," said Williamson.
Catlin's communications head, James Burcke, declined to
comment on the size of the loss related to the missing flight.
Burcke said the company was comfortable with its previous
forecast of a growth of 5-10 percent in gross premiums written,
noting that its geographical spread and the range of risks it
covers would make up for a slump in catastrophe rates.
"With a benign claims environment in (the first quarter),
profitability is likely to be solid as the (company) builds up
earnings buffers ahead of the hurricane season," JP Morgan
Cazenove analyst Andreas van Embden said in a note.
An absence of major hurricanes last year, increased pricing
pressure and a rise in demand for "catastrophe bonds" have kept
a check on catastrophe reinsurance rates.
Catastrophe bonds allow insurers to share risks and raise
money collectively in case of a major disaster.
Catlin's shares were marginally up at 522.5 pence at 1146
GMT on Wednesday on the London Stock Exchange.
The stock has fallen about 10 percent this year to Tuesday's
close, largely underperforming the FTSE All Share Nonlife
Insurance Index, which gained over 3 percent during
the same period.
(Reporting by Esha Vaish and Richa Naidu in Bangalore; Editing
by Sunil Nair and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)