Accordingly, there are or will be important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in such statements, and therefore, you should not place undue reliance on any such statements.
More details about these risks and uncertainties can be found in the company’s most recent annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly report on Form 10-Q, both as filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Management will also refer to certain non-GAAP financial measures when describing the company’s performance. These items are reconciled and explained in our earnings release and financial supplement.
With that, I’ll turn the call over to Ed Noonan.Ed Noonan Well, thank you, Jon. Good morning. And thanks all of you for taking the time to join us today. This was an outstanding quarter for us in every way. Our financial results were excellent with a 19.5% annualized operating return on average equity, 4.3% growth in diluted book value per share plus dividends and a 66.6% combined ratio for the Group. We benefited from the absence of catastrophes in the quarter, but that’s only part of the story. From a strategic perspective, the business model that we have built is firing on all cylinders. Validus Re is the clearly established leader in the global catastrophe sector and increased its size and market presence with 17.3% growth in gross written premiums, and an 11.2% increase in property catastrophe premiums in the quarter. Validus Re generated a very strong 43.8% combined ratio. Talbot underwriters, our Lloyd syndicate continues to reach the benefits of its rather unique business mix and market leading position in its key classes. Talbot grew by 2.4% in the quarter with an 87% combined ratio. Finally, our AlphaCat business continues to demonstrate the economic and strategic value of outstanding research and analytical skills, size and market presence. AlphaCat successfully launch two new vehicles in the quarter, AlphaCat Re 2012 and PaCRe, and generated $58 million in catastrophe premiums.