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Lloyds Of London Boss: Richard Ward Admits Insurance Market 'Is Worried About Europe'

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Lloyds of London boss Richard Ward
Lloyds of London boss Richard Ward

The boss of insurance market Lloyd's of London has admitted they have made contingency plans for the collapse of the euro, confessing that they have already reduced exposure to the troubled single-currency region.

Chief executive Richard Ward told the Sunday Telegraph in an interview that the London market has discussed the possibility of switching euro underwriting to multi-currency settlement if Greece abandons the euro.

The country is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, and as June elections grow ever closer, it is thought that many Greeks will vote for an anti-austerity party, as they struggle to cope with the crippling cuts imposed by bailout payments.

If an anti-austerity party is elected in June, many fear Greece will be denied further tranches of bailout cash, leaving Greece to default on its debt.

Mr Ward has warned that the Lloyd's market, which is made up of around 80 insurance syndicates, could have to take writedowns on its £58.9 billion investment portfolio if the eurozone collapses.

Mr Ward told the Sunday Telegraph: "I'm quite worried about Europe. With all the concerns around the eurozone at the moment, we've got to be careful doing business in Europe and there are a lot of question marks over writing business in the future in euros."

Mr Ward said Lloyd's had been working hard on contingency planning and had the capability to switch settlement of European underwriting from euros to other currencies.

Europe accounts for 18% of Lloyd's £23.5 billion of gross written premiums, mostly in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The market also has a fledgling operation in Poland.

The contingency planning comes as German politicians piled the pressure on Greece ahead of elections on 17 June.

Greek anger was directed at International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde on Saturday after the IMF boss told the Guardian on Saturday that Greeks should stop trying to avoid paying taxes and that it was "payback" time for the country.

She confessed to having more sympathy for starving African children than Greeks suffering under the country's economic problems and bluntly dismissed suggestions that the IMF will relent on its austerity requirements for the country.

After her comments caused a torrent of Greek anger she publish an apology on her Facebook page earlier on Sunday, saying she was "very sympathetic to the Greek people and the challenges they are facing."

The country's economic crisis and political instability deepened this month after leaders failed to form a coalition government.

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Pictures of the Day 28 May 2012
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