Sturge slices payout as profits fall

STURGE Holdings, one of the largest underwriting agency groups in the Lloyd's insurance market, has slashed its final dividend payout from 11p to 5.5p as the group absorbed the trading difficulties in the troubled Lloyd's market, writes John Moore.

Results for the year ended 30 September, foreshadowed by Sturge when it published its half-year results in June, showed pre-tax profits of pounds 7.8m compared with pounds 8.8m, on turnover of pounds 33.2m, down from pounds 39.1m.

The total dividend is down from 16.5p to 8.25p a share.

Sturge derives its revenues from commissions made on profits generated for Lloyd's underwriting members who participate in Sturge syndicates.

Sturge's chairman, David Coleridge, who is the outgoing chairman of the entire Lloyd's market, said yesterday: 'Lloyd's underwriting agencies will be under severe pressure in the coming two years.' He added that action had been taken to ensure its agency interests at Lloyd's were efficient and cost-effective.

'Ways to reduce costs continue to be reviewed, including further reductions in the number of staff.'

The share price eased 2p to 73p.