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Aspen Insurance quarterly profit up on specialty business

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Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd. on Friday reported 2015 fourth-quarter net income of $117.9 million, an increase of 75.5% over the same period in 2014, due to continued success in specialty sub-segments and large provider deals written during the year.

Net premiums written were $586.8 million, up 5.9% in the fourth quarter of 2015, while net investment income remained relatively flat with a 0.6% decrease to $46.4 million.

Aspen's overall combined ratio improved to 91.8% from 94.1% in the same period 2014, while the reinsurance segment's combined ratio improved to 74.1% from 82.7%.

“Aspen Re had a very strong quarter to finish an exceptional year,” Chief Financial Officer Scott Kirk said during a Friday conference call. “In the fourth quarter, we found success in the specialty subsegment as we had throughout 2015.” In its insurance business, Aspen chose to pull back in marine, aviation and energy subsegments, where “returns were not adequate,” he said.

“2015 was a year of significant progress across Aspen,” Aspen CEO Chris O'Kane said in a company statement. “We continued to diversify further our reinsurance and insurance operations, expanding both by product and geography.”

The Hamilton, Bermuda-based insurer expanded its reinsurance operations into Australia, China and the Middle East, Mr. O'Kane said in a Friday conference call. Aspen also added a U.S. crop insurer, Agrologic Insurance Services, to its reinsurance business and, on their insurance side, expanded into Singapore, grew their operations in Bermuda and Chicago, and launched Aspen Starr Property, a joint venture with Starr Cos., he said.

For full-year 2015, net income dropped 9.2% to $323.1 million. Yearly net written premiums were up 5.2% to $2.65 billion, with net investment income decreasing 2.5% to $185.5 million. The combined ratio for 2015 remained flat, changing to 91.9% from 91.7% in 2014.