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A.M. Best Co. opened an office in London last week under the name A.M. Best Europe Ltd. to expand its international insurance rating business in the United Kingdom and Europe. This is the first operation that the Oldwick, N.J.-based company has set up outside the United States. It is managed by Gregson Carter, formerly a vp with the London branch of Bank of America. . . .St. Paul Re, the reinsurance offshoot of U.S. insurer The St. Paul Cos., has expanded its operations with a new branch office in Sydney, Australia. Headed by Vp and General Manager Bruce Ford, the new office will look at both reinsurance and alternative risk transfer mechanisms for the Australian market. Last year, St. Paul Re wrote $6 million in net premiums in Australia. . . .Rating agency Standard & Poor's has confirmed its A+ rating of Swedish insurer Sirius International Insurance Corp. because of Sirius' conservative approach and "excellent capitalization." S&P also notes Sirius' strong business position in Nordic countries, though it has limited reach outside the region. . . .Broker Willis Corroon Group P.L.C. last month opened its second office in China. The new office is based in Shanghai and was opened two years after its initial venture in Beijing. Willis has plans to open more offices in the country in the coming years. . . .Meanwhile, French insurer AXA-UAP has opened a fourth office in China and applied to the People's Bank of China for a license to sell insurance in the country. AXA-UAP has added an office in Wuhan to its current operations in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. . . .Michael Dicker, Kirsty Gray and Stephen McGowan have been appointed directors of Carpenter Bowring Ltd. in London, part of Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. . . .Colin Hart, divisional director in the special risks department of GAB Robins U.K. Ltd., has been named president of the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters in the United Kingdom . . .German insurer Gerling-Konzern Allgemeine Versicherungs A.G. has invested $2 million in Washington-based alternative energy company SunLight Power International through GAIA Kapital, a venture company recently set up by Gerling President Rolf Gerling. Mr. Gerling is a board member of The Solar Century, an awareness group aimed at encouraging financial services companies to invest in solar energy. . . .Gross premiums written by Swiss insurer The Zurich Insurance Co. rose more than 10% last year to 11.5 billion Swiss francs ($8.58 billion), while net profits rose by 25.9% to 603.6 million francs ($450.6 million). Subsidiary Zurich Group posted increased profits of 1.1 billion francs ($821.1 million), up 30.2% from the previous year. Currency fluctuations and the consolidation of acquired business-in particular the Kemper Group-helped boost the figures, though Zurich also notes improved performance in both the life and non-life sec-tors. . . .London insurance agency CRM Insurance Services Ltd. has denied any involvement in the fraudulent activities of Dai Ichi Kyoto Reinsurance Co. S.A. and its units Kobe Reinsurance S.A. and North American Fidelity & Guarantee S.A. Last week, CRM Chairman Michael Reeve was detained by Belgian police as he delivered a document he claimed pointed the finger at certain people behind the insurance fraud scandal. Dai Ichi Kyoto Reinsurance collapsed at the end of 1995, owing millions of dollars to U.S. and U.K. insurers and brokers. The Serious Fraud Office in the United Kingdom, the Belgian police and the Federal Bureau of Investigations are working together to identify the culprits (BI, April 21).