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Richard Gamble has stepped down as group chief executive of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group P.L.C. in the first major board-level changes since RSA was formed by the merger of Royal Insurance P.L.C. and Sun Alliance Group P.L.C. last year. Robert Mendelsohn, chief executive officer of Royal & Sun Alliance USA Inc., will succeed Mr. Gamble as group chief executive, subject to regulatory approval. Additionally, Roger Taylor has relinquished his position as executive deputy chairman to become non-executive deputy chairman and senior adviser on external affairs

. . . .The Institute of London Underwriters and the London International Insurance & Reinsurance Market Assn. plan to merge after a poll of members showed a majority favors forging a closer relationship between the two. The ILU committee and the LIRMA council are putting together merger terms, but they still need the formal ratification of member companies before a single trade organization can be formed

. . . .The North of England Protection & Indemnity Assn. Ltd. and Newcastle Protection & Indemnity Assn. are joining forces. The Newcastle P&I Club will pay the North of England a reinsurance-to-close premium to close its account, including the Newcastle's net insurance liabilities at Feb. 20, 1998, its free reserve at Feb. 20, 1997, totaling $8.3 million, and a risk premium of up to $7.2 million. The new club will cover about 5% of the world merchant fleet

. . . .Julian James has joined Lloyd's of London to head up

the London operations of Lloyd's North American business unit. . . .Insurance fraud is on the up in the United Kingdom, according to statistics released last week by the Assn. of British Insurers. Estimates suggest fraudulent claims have risen to to L595 million ($1 billion) for 1997, 6.3% over last year's level. Commercial insurance buyers contributed less than 7% of the total, with commercial property fraud estimated to cost the insurance industry about L40 million ($67.2 million) this year, mainly from inflated claims. . . .Lloyd's corporate investor Euclidian P.L.C. has set up its own underwriting agency, claiming to be the first corporate investor spread over several syndicates to do so. Euclidian Underwriting Ltd. will start with capacity of L20 million ($33.6 million) at the beginning of next year, writing South American and Asian liability business, general contingency business and general affinity business. . . .

Rating agency Standard & Poor's has raised its claims-paying ability rating on Sphere Drake Insurance P.L.C. and Sphere Drake Insurance (Bermuda) Ltd. to A- from BBB and removed them both from CreditWatch. S&P made the move after Canada's Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. completed its purchase of the Sphere Drake Holdings Ltd. group last week.