UPDATE 1-Insurer Brit posts rising profits, special dividend

Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:31am EST
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By Sinead Cruise

LONDON Feb 25 (Reuters) - Brit PLC, the specialty insurer targeted by Prem Watsa's Fairfax Financial Holdings , booked a 39.7 percent rise in full year post-tax profits on Wednesday, driven by strong underwriting and investment performances.

Profit after tax increased to 139 million pounds ($215.41 million), compared with 99.5 million pounds in 2013. Gross written premiums also rose by 9.8 percent to just over 1.3 billion pounds.

Chief Executive Mark Cloutier attributed these figures, and a 38.4 percent increase in the firm's investment return over the period, to a combination of falling bond yields, tightening credit spreads and a "continued focus on strict cost control".

Brit, which recommended a cash takeover offer from Canada's Fairfax earlier this month, has declared a final dividend of 12.5 pence per share plus a special dividend of 12.5 pence, bringing total dividend for year, including its interim payout, to 31.25 pence.

Watsa's Fairfax said it would buy Brit for some $1.88 billion to become one of the top five underwriters on the Lloyd's of London market. ($1 = 0.6453 British Pounds) (Reporting By Sinead Cruise, editing by Simon Jesspo)