DTI claims overshadow Singer rise

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The Independent Online
IMPROVED profits at Singer & Friedlander, the merchant bank, were overshadowed yesterday when it said it was expecting a second claim from the Department of Trade and Industry in connection with the Barlow Clowes affair, writes John Willcock.

Singer's profits for 1992 rose to pounds 16.16m, from pounds 15.5m in 1991.

John Hodson, the chief executive, said a first writ from the DTI claiming about pounds 40m had been issued but not served. The writ related to Singer's role as adviser to James Ferguson Holdings when that company bought certain Barlow Clowes companies in 1987.

Singer has also been advised by the DTI's solicitors that it will soon receive a second letter, preparatory to a writ, claiming a further pounds 8.6m plus interest in relation to Singer's role in connection with Barlow Clowes and the bid for Buckley's Brewery in 1987.

Singer's banking arm was forced to write off pounds 10.1m due to falling property values in 1992. It bought pounds 12.6m of its own shares from the administrators of the crashed financial services group British & Commonwealth, and paid off pounds 25m of loan stock.

Singer has agreed to buy 35 per cent of Edgar Hamilton, the insurance broker, for pounds 2.75m. Mr Hodson said it may eventually buy the whole firm for pounds 8m-pounds 9m.