Icap warns of toughest time in over 36 years

Michael Bow
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ICAP boss Michael Spencer yesterday warned markets were facing their toughest period for 36 years after the interdealer broker issued a stark profit warning due to falling trading volumes.

The company, which was relegated from the FTSE 100 in September after six years on the index, saw pre-tax profits slump by a quarter and revenues drop 14 per cent in six months as it gave an insight into the parlous state of the broking environment yesterday.

Spencer said: “This has been one of the toughest periods in my 36 year career in the wholesale financial markets.

“Trading volumes this year have fallen significantly across nearly all asset classes and geographies whether equities, futures, FX (foreign exchange), commodities, fixed income and also OTC (over the counter).”

The firm warned pre-tax profits for the full year would come in at closer to £300m, around ten per cent lower than some analyst estimates.

Spencer told reporters on a conference call the firm had been cutting staff as part of an overall £60m cost cutting exercise set to finish in March 2013.

He said: “Roughly nine per cent of staff have left the firm, five per cent have come in but we are not planning any more cost cuts.”

He added bonuses at the business would fall 14 per cent across the board, in line with the drop in revenue. The dividend was up 0.6p.