Close Brothers eyes expansion as profits rise

MERCHANT banking group Close Brothers yesterday said it was on the lookout for takeovers as its adjusted operating profit improved by 13 per cent in the year to July.

Close said it made £131m operating profit despite a difficult economy, but pre-tax profit slipped 22 per cent to £78.5m as it paid a raft of restructuring costs.

Chief executive Preben Prebensen said it was now looking to grow its £9.6bn asset management arm by adding independent financial advisory firms, after buying wealth manager Cavanagh earlier this year. “We would like to buy another couple of good IFA businesses,” he said. “We would like to add another £1bn to £2bn of clients’ assets under management.”

Close’s asset management business posted a £9m loss for the year as its restructuring continued, while difficult financial markets caused earnings to fall in its stockbroking arm.

But its bank’s underlying operating profit rose 34 per cent to £106m as its loan book gained 18 per cent.