Best Affirms FSR for Lloyd’s Syndicate 609; Outlook is Stable

March 16, 2006

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating of A (Excellent) and issuer credit rating (ICR) of “a+” of Lloyd’s Syndicate 609 (United Kingdom), which is managed by Atrium Underwriters Limited.

At the same time, A.M. Best has assigned an ICR of “bbb+” to Atrium Underwriting Plc (AUP) (United Kingdom), the non-operating holding company of the Atrium group of companies. The outlook for all the ratings is stable.

A.M. Best anticipates that the syndicate will continue to manage its capacity to a level commensurate with likely underwriting opportunities. In 2006 capacity has been maintained at GBP 215 million (USD 374 million), but A.M. Best believes utilisation will increase to approximately 85% (up from approximately 75% in 2005) as a result of better underwriting conditions for several of the classes of business the syndicate writes.

Although A.M. Best anticipates a significant loss for the 2005 year of account of between 5%-15% of capacity, this is offset by an enhanced return on capacity anticipated for the 2006 and 2007 years of account due to a better than expected outlook for market conditions.

The ratings also factor an improvement in A.M. Best’s expectations for the 2004 year of account (anticipated return on capacity of between 7.5%-12.5%), in line with the syndicate’s 2005 year-end quarterly management report. Syndicate 609 produced an excellent operating profit of 27.1% of capacity for the 2003 year of account, supported by a relative absence of significant catastrophe losses.

The ratings also factor syndicate 609’s well diversified portfolio. The syndicate maintains an excellent business profile in certain specialist areas of marine insurance as well as other business, including non-marine property, energy and aviation war.

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