Volatile markets give Leopold Joseph a lift

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LEOPOLD JOSEPH, the small London merchant bank that caters for the wealthy, declared an interim dividend of 3.25p for the six months to 30 September, compared with 3.1p a year ago, writes Lisa Vaughan.

The company said first-half results were satisfactory, but it does not release figures at the half-year. 'We expect a satisfactory outcome for the year,' it said. No significant bad debt provisions were taken.

Banking and treasury operations made good progress, with treasury in particular benefiting from volatile financial markets. Costs were well contained.

David Fletcher, joint chief executive, said trading conditions had improved from the second half of last year.

'Asset values have gone up quite a lot, particularly for property and the stock market. To us it's a general background swell . . . people are generally less cautious and feel more wealthy.'

Last year the bank increased annual profits after tax by 43 per cent to pounds 1.6m. Leopold Joseph's banking and administration services to the Lloyd's insurance market continued to grow. But it said it was reviewing the implications of the organisational changes proposed at Lloyds.

The bank maintains a relatively low-risk role in Lloyd's by profitably transmitting money in and out of the insurance market.