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LONDON -- Wellington Underwriting Agencies Ltd., one of Lloyd's of London's largest underwriting agencies, is planning to break with tradition when it merges all its syndicates to form one of the largest syndicates in the market.

In a departure from Lloyd's normal practice of having one active underwriter solely responsible for a syndicate, the agency will seek permission from Lloyd's to run the new syndicate through a partnership of five underwriters.

"We believe that this will be the first time that a Lloyd's syndicate will be led by a partnership of underwriters, each taking collective responsibility, rather than one single active underwriter," said Julian Avery, Wellington's managing director.

The new syndicate, to be formed by merging syndicates 51, 672 and 1028, will, subject to Lloyd's approval, begin underwriting in January 1999 with an estimated capacity of 500 million pounds to 550 million pounds ($829.5 million to $912.5 million), according to Mr. Avery.

Raymond Dumas, currently active underwriter for syndicate 1028, will be senior partner in the new arrangement, he said. Under the partnership arrangement, the underwriting partners will be jointly responsible for all business underwritten and will share jointly in underwriting profits.

"The enlarged business will meet brokers' and customers' demands for security, service and long-term relationships while at the same time generating significant economies of scale," said Mr. Avery.

The agency has discussed its proposals with Lloyd's, but a formal application to merge the syndicates will be made in the spring, Mr. Avery said.