UPDATE 2-Lloyd’s of London reviews costs after swinging to 2 bln stg loss

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LONDON (Reuters) – Lloyd’s of London [SOLYD.UL] reported a 2017 pretax loss of 2 billion pounds ($2.80 billion), it said on Wednesday, pushing it into the red for the first time in six years after a record year for losses from natural disasters.

FILE PHOTO: A doorman stands outside the Lloyd’s of London building in the City of London financial district in London, Britain, February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

The specialist insurance market, which has been losing global market share, also said its planned EU subsidiary would be operational by July 2018, to cope with Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Insurers suffered $135 billion in losses from natural catastrophes such as hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires last year.

The 2 billion pound loss followed a pretax profit of 2.1 billion pounds in 2016.

“The market experienced an exceptionally difficult year in 2017, driven by challenging market conditions and a significant impact from natural catastrophes,” chief executive Inga Beale said in a trading statement.

FILE PHOTO: Lloyd’s Chief Executive Officer Inga Beale attends an interview in Hong Kong, China January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Major claims more than doubled from a year earlier, to 4.5 billion pounds in 2017, though the market said its capital position remains strong.

Lloyd’s plans to get a license for its Brussels subsidiary and make the business operational by July, so that it is ready to write business by Jan 1, 2019, it said in its annual report.

It paid Beale 1.3 million pounds last year, down 14.5 percent from 2016, the report showed.

The market’s gross written premiums rose 12 percent to 33.6 billion pounds, while the combined ratio, a measure of underwriting profit, weakened to 114 percent.

A level above 100 percent indicates a loss.

Return on capital was 1.8 billion pounds, compared with 1.3 billion in 2016.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn. Editing by Ben Martin and Louise Heavens

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