INSURANCE EARNINGS SEDGWICK GROUP BLAMES DOLLAR, MARKETS FOR SLIDE IN 6-MONTH PROFIT

INSURANCE EARNINGS SEDGWICK GROUP BLAMES DOLLAR, MARKETS FOR SLIDE IN 6-MONTH PROFIT

British-based Sedgwick Group, Europe's biggest insurance broker, Tuesday announced a slip in six-month profit and warned of more woes if markets and the dollar failed to recover.

Pretax profit in the six months to the end of June was UK63.1 million ($99.19 million) against UK63.4 million ($99.66 million) in the year-ago period.Lower translated U.S. earnings and the continued impact of ragged consumer confidence in Britain affected growth.

Translation effects from a weak dollar hit income in sterling terms, with reported revenue falling to UK474.8 million ($746.4 million) from UK477.2 million ($750.2 million) in the six months to end June last year.

The group, which runs over 260 offices in 64 countries, also announced a major European reorganization to streamline operations and cut costs.

"While these interim results are fairly close to those of the same period last year, our full year results could be somewhat affected unless there is a strengthening of the U.S. dollar and conditions in the industry improve," chief executive Sax Riley warned in the results statement.

Sedgwick shares dropped 10 pence to 127 by midsession on the London Stock Exchange on the results and a flat 3 pence interim dividend. Brokers came away disappointed from an analysts' briefing.

"The outlook was cautious and the dividend was unchanged. Those are the two factors weighing on the stock," said one analyst at a leading London broker.

From Jan. 1, Sedgwick Payne, its specialist aviation, energy, marine and cargo and reinsurance unit, will be merged with Sedgwick Europe, the mainstream broking side, to form Sedgwick Europe Risk Services as a single European operation.

At the same time, pensions and life insurance broker Noble Lowndes will be restructured on a regional basis in Britain to work more closely with the retail broking side.

GENERAL ACCIDENT PLC

BOOSTS EARNINGS 24 PERCENT

LONDON - General Accident PLC announced Tuesday a 24 percent surge in first-half profit but warned that competition in the British insurance market was likely to get tougher.

Profit for the six months to the end of June rose to UK253.6 million ($399.9 million) from UK204 million ($321.6 million), and the group raised its dividend by 5.9 percent to 10.7 pence. General Accident said profits were boosted by good results in its main British and U.S. markets, with signs of improvement in Canada.

But chief executive Nelson Robertson cautioned, "Trading conditions during the remainder of 1995 and beyond are likely to be more competitive."

The company's underwriting profit in Britain was virtually unchanged at UK94.6 million ($149.2 million), despite increased competitive pressures.