RSA Insurance's chief executive has quit after the company issued its third profit warning in five weeks and admitted its dividend was in question. Simon Lee has left the general insurer with immediate effect. Chairman Martin Scicluna will run the company until a replacement can be found. Shares in RSA were down 20% at 80p in early trading – more than a third below their pre-profit warning value. RSA said it had been forced to strengthen reserves in Ireland by £130m to meet potential claims for bodily injuries at its motor insurance arm. The injection of funds is on top of £70m announced on 8 November and comes out of the group's annual profit. The group will also move £135m of capital into the Irish business to make sure it meets rules on solvency. RSA's problems in Ireland have already claimed the jobs of its top three Irish executives and are being probed by the country's regulators. RSA also said it had been hit by additional claims for £25m after the UK and Scandinavia were hit by storms in early December. The result is that profits for 2013 will be reduced further following two profit warnings in a week the group was forced to issue early last month. Scicluna said: "The significant reserve strengthening in Ireland represents a further negative event and places additional strain on the capital metrics of the group. "The impact of this reserve strengthening, alongside the extreme weather in 2013 and the effect of financial irregularities in Ireland will be taken into consideration in the board's dividend decision in February." RSA said Lee, who started as chief executive two years ago, would be paid according to his contract. His position has been under threat since financial trouble emerged in Ireland , where RSA is the biggest general insurer. He had already upset investors with his handling of a dividend cut in February. RSA blamed its first profit warning last month on claims caused by bad weather but then came back with a second alert raising problems found during a "routine audit" of its Irish business. RSA has hired audit firm PwC to review its Irish business. The firm will report back to the board in January.
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