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LONDON, MARCH 5 - British insurer Amlin said it expected to return to profit this year after more than 500 million pounds ($792.80 million) in catastrophe claims pushed it deep into the red in 2011.

Amlin, the biggest insurer operating in the Lloyd's of London market, made a pretax loss of 193.8 million pounds last year, compared with a profit of 259.2 million pounds in 2010, it said on Monday.

Amlin Chief Executive Charles Philips said the insurer should return to a good level of profitability in 2012, helped by rising prices in some parts of the insurance market.

In 2011, insurers were hit by $108 billion in claims following a spate of catastrophes including Japan's Tohoku earthquake, making it the second-cosliest natural disaster year on record, according to reinsurer Swiss Re

Amlin shares closed at 351.5 pence on Friday, valuing the company at about 1.75 billion pounds. ($1 = 0.6307 British pounds)

(Reporting by Myles Neligan; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)