Warburg profits power ahead

JOHN EISENHAMMER

Financial Editor

SBC Warburg demonstrated the strengths of the combined City investment banking powerhouse with a sharp jump in pre-tax profits to pounds 455m.

A rocky start to the merger and a rash of senior defections did not stop Warburg - which made a small loss last year - from contributing strongly to the investment banking business under its new owner, Swiss Bank Corporation.

Georges Blum, SBC's chairman, said that cost savings of pounds 137m had been achieved as a result of the integration, well above expectations.

"The two main rationales underlying the SG Warburg acquitions were thus realised in the first year of the merger: we were able to achieve substantial synergies on the cost side and expand our client franchise, which resulted in a significantly stronger deal flow," he said.

The early success of the merged securities operation was reflected in a "quantum jump" of 195 per cent in operating revenues to pounds 693m. "This was not only the result of favourable market conditions but also of the substantial synergies from the Warburg acquisition."

Corporate finance operating revenues rose by 700 per cent to pounds 202m, thanks to the M&A boom. But SBC conceded that the pick-up was initially subdued. Corporate finance has suffered the worst of the defections, with morale still weak, and a string of big client losses adding to the difficulties. Last week SBC Warburg was fired by Halifax as its adviser.

Yesterday's profit figures combined the old SBC investment banking operations as well as Warburg. Swiss Bank Corp reported a 30 per cent increase in group 1995 net profit to pounds 550m.

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