Veteran UK lender Close Brothers surges ahead on share activity

Joseph Millis
A SURGE in specialist lending and stock market activity yesterday saw British financial services company Close Brothers announce an increase in operating profits by 20 per cent in the past year to £201m.

Close Brothers, founded in 1878, said full-year profit rose 25 per cent after it increased lending and rising stock markets boosted its securities division.

Net income for the 12 months to 31 July 31 increased to £149.8m from £120m during the same period last year, London-based Close Brothers said in a statement.

The company raised its dividend 10 per cent to 49p per share.

Chief executive officer Preben Prebensen said in an interview that lending growth was driven by the residential construction market and auto buyers as the UK economy recovered. “We enter the 2015 financial year with confidence,” he said.

Profit at Close Brothers’s banking business grew 15 per cent to £181.6m for the year.

“The demand for credit from the consumer has been greater than that for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),” Prebensen said.

Profit at the Winterflood Securities unit rose 57 per cent to £26.6m as retail investors’ risk appetite improved, the firm said.

Shares fell 0.21 per cent to 1,425p.