Close Brothers upbeat after loan book rise

Merchant bank Close Brothers grew its loan book and said its first quarter performance had been solid, despite a small loss in its asset management division.

The bank said it was confident of delivering a "satisfactory" performance for its 2010/11 financial year to the end of July.

Its first quarter bad debt ratio grew slightly compared to the previous six months due to a problem loan in the legacy property portfolio.

But it predicted bad debts would be lower than last year by the end of the 2011 financial year.

Close Brothers' loan book grew by seven per cent to £3.1bn in the quarter to the end of October, after growing in its previous financial year.

The group's asset management division posted a small loss for the first quarter, as predicted by the bank in September. It is restructuring this part of its business.