P&I Club's Free Reserves Up 16%

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The 'A' rated North of England P&I club has emerged both bigger and stronger
from this year's annual renewal, with free reserves up from $190 million
to $220 million and total entered tonnage rising to 90 million GT.

Chairman Albert Engelsman and his fellow board directors formally approved
the club's 2007/8 accounts last week. The combined accounts show a 15.7%
increase in free reserves at 20 February 2008, with investment income and
exchange gains of US$40 million offsetting a technical underwriting loss of
$10 million. Net assets increased $45 million to $679 million.

 According to joint deputy managing director Alan Wilson, 'The year was again
dominated by an increased level of claims leading to a net underwriting
loss. Nevertheless, and helped in part by reducing our equity exposure from
38% to 17% last autumn, we were also able to achieve a respectable 7.1%
return on investments. The industry continues to face a difficult claims
environment and investment markets are particularly volatile, suggesting the
need for further industry-wide premium increases.'

 Entered tonnage now stands at over 90 million GT, with owned tonnage in
excess of 65 million GT and chartered ships accounting for around 25 million
GT. 'During 2007/8 and at renewal we continued to attract more high-quality
members, with 35 shipowners entering ships for the first time,' says joint
deputy managing director Paul Jennings. 'We were also pleased that our
existing members continued to add ships and support the club, resulting in a
total annual growth of nearly 10 million GT owned tonnage and 10 million GT
chartered tonnage.'

 Managing director Rodney Eccleston says, 'The continued growth in membership
reflects the club's proactive approach to service. The board is acutely
aware of the need to maintain service levels so has approved the recruitment
of additional staff, which will increase the team to 200 people within 12

 North of England's directors have also confirmed that Wilson (52) and
Jennings (45), who have already worked closely together at the club for over
10 years, will be appointed joint managing directors when managing director
Rodney Eccleston (58) retires in September 2009. Their appointments mirror
the successful joint leadership role played by Eccleston and Peter Crichton
for 18 years until May 2006, when Crichton retired. Eccleston will continue
in a part-time marketing and advisory capacity after his retirement.


According to Engelsman, 'The board's decision reflects our wish to ensure
successful continuation of a strong and stable management team at North of
England, which is now one of the strongest members of the International
Group. With a Standard and Poor's 'A' rating four years running and a
respectable financial result for 2007/8, I believe the club is well-placed
for further development during what looks set to be an increasingly
difficult trading environment.'


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