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U.K. insurer Norwich Union Life Insurance Society announced plans to convert to a new stock company, Norwich Union P.L.C., and issue shares to the public that will begin trading in May on the London Stock Exchange. At that point, N orwich's general insurance and international business will be transferred from the society to shareholders. Norwich Un-ion's current members will receive free and discounted shares, and the public offering is expected to raise (British pounds) 1.75 billion ($2.80 billion). . . . Switzerland's Zurich Insurance Group has expanded its overseas operations by entering a joint venture with Thai insurer Thai Metropole Insurance Co. Ltd. Zurich has a minority shareholding in the joi nt venture, as required by Thai law, and will gradually transfer its international and corporate business in Thailand to Thai Metropole. Thai Metropole posted premium volume of $70 million last year. . . Lloyd's of London will ach ieve a profit of (British pounds) 400 million ($639.2 million) for the 1997 underwriting year, forecasts analyst Syndicate Underwriting Research Ltd., a return of 4% on capacity. SURL also predicts a (British pounds) 1.3 billion ($2.08 billion) profit for the 199 4 year, which closed at year-end 1996, not taking into account the special levy charged as part of the market's reconstruction and renewal plan. Syndicate managers will begin filing their results for 1994 this week. . . .Last week saw the first official message transmitted across the World Insurance Network, marking the start of WINconnect testing. WINconnect, a venture of several leading insurance brokers, will provide a secure global network to exchange in surance information electronically and is due to be launched this summer. . . .The Benfield & Rea Investment Trust P.L.C. has agreed to buy shares in a number of Lloyd's of London corporate investors, including Abtrust Lloyd's Insu rance Trust P.L.C., Angerstein Underwriting Trust P.L.C., CLM Insurance Fund P.L.C., Euclidian P.L.C., Hiscox Select Insurance Fund P.L.C., Masthead Insurance Underwriting P.L.C., Matheson Lloyd's Investment Trust P.L.C. and Syndic ate Capital Trust P.L.C. . . .French broker Groupe Le Blanc de Nicolay and London broker Crawley Warren Group P.L.C. have broken off talks to merge the two organizations because they were "unable to reach agreement on various matt ers," according to a GLN statement. . . .Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. has made a $308 million tender offer for shares that would give Generali a 57% stake in Israeli insurer Leumi Insurance Holdings. Generali has recently come under fire for allegedly withholding payments from life insurance policies held by Holocaust victims issued by one of its former subsidiaries. Generali has denied the allegations.