Close Brothers could eye further acquisitions as profits rise 21%

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Close Brothers has reported a 21 per cent increase in its adjusted operating profit to £134.2m, saying it would consider further strategic acquisitions “where appropriate”.

In its six-month trading update to 31 January 2017, the group says Winterflood and its asset management arm benefited from “favourable” market conditions.

Winterflood profits more than doubled to £14.4m, while Close Brothers Asset Management reported an 8 per cent increase in profits from £8.4m to £9.1m, due to continued net inflows and rising markets.

Alongside the results, the group has named Mike Biggs as incoming chairman, succeeding Strone Macpherson who will retire on 30 April.

Biggs is also chairman at Direct Line. He joins the board today and will take over from Macpherson as chairman on 1 May.

Close Brothers Asset Management attributed much of its success to its growth trajectory – having completed two IFA acquisitions, including London-based Eos, which completed in June 2016.

The business now has 100 advisers under its brand, adding it would continue to focus on organic growth but also consider small acquisitions “where appropriate”.

The group also reported a 5 per cent increase in its interim dividend, to 20p per share, which it said reflected its “ongoing commitment to progressive and sustainable dividend growth.”

Chief executive Preben Prebensen says: “All parts of our business performed well in the period.

“Our three banking segments, retail finance, commercial finance and property finance, all reported profit growth and strong returns, while both Winterflood and asset management benefited from favourable markets.

“Trading conditions have clearly been favourable in the first half, but as always our priority remains to protect, sustain and invest in our business for the long term.

“Our service-driven model, focused on specialist markets, has allowed us to support our clients, invest in our business and generate strong returns for shareholders over many years.”