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RSA reports an overall rise but UK slumps

RSA Insurance, the motor and commercial insurance giant, yesterday reported a four per cent rise in premiums over the first nine months of 2009 amid signs of recovery in its international and emerging markets businesses.<br /><br />RSA, formerly known as Royal &amp; Sun Alliance, said net written premiums were &pound;5bn compared to &pound;4.85bn at the same point last year. <br /><br />Chief executive Andy Haste said: &ldquo;While economic conditions remain challenging, we are now seeing some encouraging signs, particularly in international and emerging markets.&rdquo;<br /><br />In the UK, where RSA writes half its business, premiums dipped three per cent to &pound;1.98bn, and Haste warned that RSA would withdraw capacity if it missed targets over the full year.<br /><br />The overall result was supported by eight per cent growth in international and seven per cent growth in emerging markets. RSA said UK personal motor rates were up seven per cent for consumers renewing in September 2009.<br /><br />In February RSA announced it would cut costs by &pound;70m and shed 1,200 jobs by mid-2010. Yesterday Haste said 1,050 staff had already left and the company was on target to fulfill its savings programme. The update was well received by the market and investors. Cazenove analyst Freddie Neave said: &ldquo;RSA has a good&nbsp; track record of delivering stable profitability, and this year looks to be no exception.&rdquo; The shares lost one per cent.