Page 3 provides additional financial highlights for the quarter. Despite the challenging industry conditions, Tower has continued to grow profitably in the first quarter. Our gross premiums written and managed increased by 38% in the first quarter to $390 million from $283 million for the same period last year. This growth was driven primarily by the acquisition of OneBeacon Personal Lines division and Navigators' renewal rights transaction. However, we began seeing organic growth from our new business units, customized solutions and assumed reinsurance and risk sharing. I will provide more details on these initiatives later on this call. In addition to achieving an impressive top line growth rate, we were able to maintain our underwriting discipline as demonstrated by a 97.7% combined ratio this quarter compared to 99.4% for the same period last year. Excluding the losses from the winter storms, our combined ratio for the quarter was 93.8%. We expect the combined ratio to decrease throughout the year, mainly due to a lower loss ratio that we experienced throughout our history for the rest of the year, and a lower expense ratio as our fixed expenses become leveraged with higher premium volume.
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