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Profits return lifts Collins Stewart

TERRY Smith is to hand over the chairmanship of stockbroker Collins Stewart on 1 April to Tim Ingram, the firm confirmed yesterday, as it unveiled a swing back into the black over the past year.

Smith, who remains as deputy chairman for the transition period, is stepping down to concentrate on his role as chief executive of inter-dealer broker Tullett Prebon. Mark Brown remains as chief executive of Collins Stewart, while Ingram will give up his current role as chief executive of Caledonia Investments in July.

Collins Stewart said yesterday it made a pre-tax profit of £18.4m for the year to December, up from a loss of £15.2m in 2008.

Brown said the economic environment would remain challenging, but added that the group’s priority going forward will be to grow its wealth management business, which was boosted yesterday by the bolt-on acquisition of Guernsey-based Corazon Capital.

The wealth management arm posted a 25 per cent dip in operating profit over the full year to £10.1m, though this was offset by a return to profit for the group’s securities and corporate broking operations.

Its corporate advisory division Hawkpoint saw profit plunge by a third over the year to £4.7m, though Smith said it would be of increasing strategic importance going forward.

“The need for Hawkpoint’s un-conflicted, independent advice has never been greater,” he said.