Close Brothers reports flat profits

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Close Brothers, one of the City's last true independent banks, saw a modest 2 per cent rise in profits last year as good results from its banking division outweighed a tough year at Winterflood, its broking operation.

With Aim and small cap share trading well down in the year to the end of July, Winterflood's operating profits slumped from £54.8m to £24.5m. Costs were cut by 30 per cent with dealers taking much of the hit in their bonus pay-outs.

On the banking side profits rose 27 per cent to £135m and the loan book increased by 20 per cent to £4.1bn. Close has done well in markets like car loans and small business loans as many foreign banks have withdrawn from the market and the big banks are reluctant to lend.

Asset management made a reduced loss of £4.3m and is set to return to profit in the current year after a major restructuring. The dividend went up 1.5p to 41.5p a share.