Icap blames profit tumble on 'extraordinarily tough year'

Icap warned that market conditions remain "fragile and unpredictable", despite a good April, as the broking giant yesterday revealed its profits tumbled 20 per cent last year.

However, its founder and chief executive Michael Spencer said the business had cut costs and developed new products, which meant it should prosper when markets revive.

Mr Spencer said: "This has been an extraordinarily tough year in the wholesale financial markets. Trading activity across all asset classes was negatively affected by a combination of cyclical and structural factors, including the depressed global economy, a low interest rate environment and lack of clarity around some aspects of regulatory reform."

Revenues for the year to the end of March fell by 12 per cent to £1.47bn, while pre-tax profits fell by a fifth to £284m, which was slightly better than the market expected. Icap shares gained 42.3p to 339.7p.

Mr Spencer said that the company had now achieved annualised cost savings of £80m, which is £20m more than its original target. Part of this came from the departure of almost 350 voice brokers, although net staff numbers were down only 147 at 4,976.

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