Investec half year profits down

Investec, the South African investment bank and asset manager, posted a two per cent decline in first-half earnings, hit by a loss at its private banking business and a sharp decline in investment banking.

Investec, which is also listed in London, said operating profit before certain items totalled £223.63min the six months to end-September, compared with £228.16m a year earlier.

Investec, which is expanding its wealth and asset management businesses to scale back its dependence on lending, said it was hit by a £4.9m private banking loss, hurt again by real estate in Ireland and Australia.

Operating profit at its investment banking unit fell by more than 90 per cent, as corporate finance deal flow remains slow. Bankers have said that corporations in South Africa, Africa's biggest economy and a major trading partner with Europe, are unlikely to do deals as long as there is uncertainty about the outlook for Europe.