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LONDON, May 5 (Reuters) - Net written premiums at insurer RSA fell 1 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier as a result of disposals, it said on Thursday, though operating profits for the quarter were strong and ahead of expectations.
The general insurer, best known in Britain for its More Than brand, posted net written premiums at constant exchange rates of 1.575 billion pounds ($2.29 billion), following the sale of businesses in Brazil, Colombia and Russia.
The company did not disclose its Q1 operating profits.
"The external environment is challenging, characterised by slow growth, competition and volatile financial markets," chief executive Stephen Hester said in a statement.
Zurich Insurance last year abandoned a 5.6 billion pound ($8.22 billion) takeover bid for the firm.
RSA posted a 9 percent rise in tangible equity to 3.1 billion pounds. ($1 = 0.6888 pounds) (Reporting by Carolyn Cohn, editing by Sinead Cruise)