CE Heath sees pounds 13m profit fall

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The Independent Online

Lower public confidence in the life and pensions industry was among the reasons behind a pounds 13.3m drop in pre-tax profits for the insurance broker CE Heath in the year to 31 March.

Group operating profits were pounds 19.1m, down from pounds 30.4m in the previous 12 months.

Peter Presland, chief executive, said: "We announced last year that we were voluntarily holding an external compliance audit of our financial services business and consequently some of our salesmen would be deskbound. This audit has now been completed, we have found no major problem and we expect sales to pick up again this year."

The profits fall also reflected pounds 2.3m losses from a part-owned Australian holding, HIH. Heath has now sold its remaining 22 per cent stake.

A pounds 4.3m start-up cost of Premium Search, the company's new telephone broking service in Peterborough, is expected to reduce to pounds 2m-pounds 3m in 1995- 96, and break even the next year.

The dividend is being held at 16p. The shares fell 13p to 225p.