W. R. Berkley First-Quarter Profit Doubles

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NU Online News Service, April 25, 3:55 p.m.EDT?W. R. Berkley Corporation reported today thatfirst-quarter net profit grew more than 100 percent to $72 million,or $1.25 per share, with a strong improvement in net premiumswritten.

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In the corresponding period last year, the insurer posted a netincome of $34 million, or 66 cents based on a per-share basis.

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The Greenwich, Conn.-based insurer reported that itsfirst-quarter net premiums written went up 41 percent to $892million, compared to 2001 when the company posted $634 million inpremiums.

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The improvement for net premiums written for specialty insuranceand facultative reinsurance was especially strong, increasing by 49percent and 118 percent, respectively, compared to the same periodone year ago. Combined ratio dropped by 4.3 percent to 91.8, thecompany said.

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William R. Berkley, chairman and chief executive officer for W.R. Berkley, said that all units of the property-casualty businessgenerated underwriting profits except for treaty reinsurance, whichis still seeing loss development from prior years.

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Mr. Berkley added that prices are still moving up, although thepace of those increases has moderated somewhat. Price increasesthis year were over 12 percent for regional business, more than 25percent for specialty business and more than 30 percent forreinsurance business.

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In light of this ongoing price increase, the company expects acontinued improvement in underwriting profitability, Mr. Berkleysaid.

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W. R. Berkley's subsidiaries--including Acadia Insurance,Continental Western Insurance, Union Standard Insurance, andFiremen's Insurance--offer personal and commercial lines such asautomobile, homeowners, and small business insurance. In 2002, itposted a net income of $175 million with revenues reaching $2.56billion.

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