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Letter from Chairman

 
Left to Right: W. Robert Berkley, Jr., Chief Executive Officer and President
William R. Berkley, Executive Chairman

To Our Shareholders:

2015 was a good year by almost every measure. We reported an 11% after-tax return on equity, driven by a 93.7% combined ratio and positive investment returns. We started six new businesses or divisions and added some outstanding people to our team. After 49 years, we successfully completed a seamless CEO transition.

However, in a year with such a great list of accomplishments, we still did not achieve our targeted return, in part because the realization of investment gains is not consistent from year to year. The timing of realized gains will cause the annual variability of returns to continue, but the amount of gains is likely to enhance results and assist us in meeting our long-term targets.

Our business model is designed to achieve long-term risk-adjusted returns of 15% after-tax. We are constantly adjusting our model to adapt to the ever-changing environment and maintain an optimal balance of leverage, underwriting profitability and investment returns.