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Michael Page hit by spending cuts

The recruitment company Michael Page International has reported that UK profit growth nearly ground to a halt in recent months, as public and banking sector work dried up.

Page, which employs more than 1,400 people in the UK, said gross profits here rose 0.3 per cent to £33.1m in its third quarter, against growth of 48 per cent in the Americas and 44 per cent in Asia-Pacific.

The UK, which makes up 23 per cent of total profits, had seen a "restrained" public sector as the Government rolls out its tough package of spending cuts, while the company had already warned that hiring freezes and market turbulence had hit its banking arm.

The group's headcount, which covers 32 countries, was 5,350 on 30 September, up 229 from 30 June, while total group gross profits rose 22 per cent to £143m.

Page's banking business – which focuses on London, New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong, and accounts for 10 per cent of the group's gross profit – grew 10 per cent in the quarter, compared to 28 per cent growth the previous year.

Elsewhere, Michael Page announced that Sir Adrian Montague will retire as chairman on 31 December after 10 years on the board and Robin Buchanan, an independent non-executive director, will succeed him.