Founder Peter Cruddas signals £1bn float after CMC storms into profit

Cruddas unveiled pre-tax profits of £32.8 million in the year to 31 March

CMC Markets founder Peter Cruddas today flagged up a £1 billion float as he put his spread betting firm back into the black.

The former Conservative co-treasurer, who resigned from the party two years ago after a cash-for-access sting, unveiled pre-tax profits of £32.8 million in the year to 31 March, turning around a £4 million loss in the prior year.

His 500 staff will split a bumper windfall, and Cruddas, who owns 90 per cent of the firm with investment bank Goldman Sachs holding the balance, is paying a £12 million dividend, CMC’s first since 2008.

Hackney-born Cruddas, 60, who left school at 15 and founded the company with £10,000 in 1989, returned as chief executive early last year, having stepped back to become chairman.

Although CMC still lags a long way behind market leader IG Group, its improved performance could pave the way for a £1 billion stock-market float.

Cruddas said. “I am very open-minded about this. I am not against floating the company. We have turned it around and we are in very good shape. Actually, we don’t really need the money.

“Having a £50 million injection probably wouldn’t change much, it wouldn’t speed up expansion, there is only so much you can do. But I think we will float in the next three years.”

He committed himself to the company for the next decade but overhauled the culture by banning working from home and scrapping free fresh fruit in the office.

“Honestly, I wish I had come back sooner because I absolutely love it here,” he told the Evening Standard. “I think it was difficult for anybody else to run this company when I own 90 per cent. I started it so I felt that I could do a better job.”

Cruddas won a libel action against the Sunday Times after it accused him of offering access to David Cameron and George Osborne in return for donations to the Tory party. The newspaper is appealing. More volatile market conditions — such as last year’s  “taper tantrum” over the US ending its money-printing programme — have helped spread-betting firms as clients gamble on swings in currencies and stock markets.

For the first time, CMC executed over one million trades via mobile devices in a single month. The firm, which competes with IG for staff, is looking to recruit another 100 people over the next 18 months as it develops more offices overseas.

CMC’s operating income increased by 14 per cent to £122 million after it cut trading costs for clients and invested in its  Next Generation trading platform.  It has £117 million in cash on the balance sheet.

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