Since then, we have integrated our underwriting teams and businesses, bringing together the best of both Novae and AXIS as we work to realize the great potential of the combined business.
Novae brought to AXIS its strong standing as a Lloyd’s specialty insurer, and a reputation for the strength and technical expertise of its underwriters. The respective portfolios are complementary, bolstering AXIS’ position in several existing lines while also enabling us to penetrate new classes of business such as Construction, U.K. Casualty, U.K. Non-Standard Homeowners, U.S. Property Facilities/Programs, Medical Malpractice and Crisis Management. In addition, combining with AXIS has brought new financial resources and a broader geographic platform. The acquisition was a step change in our London presence, a presence that otherwise would have taken years of organic growth to achieve.
The potential of this acquisition for our business is significant. The combination has made AXIS more relevant in one of our most important markets. We vaulted into the ranks of the Top 10 players at Lloyd’s and became a Top 10 leader in nearly all of our key Insurance lines. In a number of areas we became a Top 5 player, including Marine and Political Risk and Credit lines, and rapidly growing markets such as Cyber and Renewable Energy. The acquisition also accelerated the establishment of a London presence for AXIS Re.
The integration of Novae is proceeding as planned, as we move forward in a unified manner to deliver on our synergy target and position the business for growth. Notably, we have retained substantially all of the key talent and business we sought to keep. We have rationalized the Lloyd’s platform and began trading from January 1, 2019, exclusively through AXIS Syndicate 1686. We successfully completed the Reinsurance to Close of the 2015 and prior years of account of Novae Syndicate 2007, and in doing so reduced downside risk from the acquired reserves related to those years. We continue to see savings from back office operations and from combining our outward reinsurance protections. Our forecast of integration expense synergies has increased from $50 million at October 2, 2017, to $60 million presently; $38 million in synergies were achieved in full year 2018.
While as of the writing of this report we do not know the ultimate resolution of the Brexit talks, AXIS is ready for any eventuality, with approved regulated entities in both our London and European platforms. AXIS is Brexit-ready, with Lloyd’s Brussels and our European Union domiciled and regulated subsidiaries AXIS Specialty Europe SE and AXIS Re SE.
Most importantly, the addition of Novae has advanced our position as a key player in the London market, where AXIS is now a $2 billion Company. Our decision to acquire Novae underscored our commitment to London and to Lloyd’s, which continues to be the preeminent market for specialty risks.
When AXIS acquired Novae, the transaction was greeted with some skepticism related primarily to challenging market conditions at Lloyd’s. We said then that we had confidence in the London market and we believed that Lloyd’s would take action to improve profitability. Lloyd’s did take strong action in the year, mandating the use of electronic placement platforms and compelling syndicates to cut back or eliminate unprofitable business. As a result, market conditions in the fourth quarter of 2018, and continuing into 2019, were the strongest in many years. Pricing and conditions are ahead of what we budgeted in our acquisition analysis, reinforcing our confidence in the benefits of our acquisition of Novae.
With more than 500 employees in London, we expect to continue investing in the market and further grow our position. In 2019, we look forward to moving into The Scalpel building, located across from Lloyd’s in the heart of London’s insurance center.