Brokerage and fee income from continuing operations rose by 15 per cent to pounds 664.3m, representing a 4 per cent improvement on an underlying basis. Although expenses also rose by 11 per cent to pounds 626.9m, Willis Corroon said underlying costs were unchanged.
Roger Elliott, chairman, said Willis Corroon was beginning to show the return on the investment made four years ago when Willis Faber bought the US firm of Corroon & Black.
The discontinued underwriting businesses both in the UK and North America continue to lose money, though the loss fell to pounds 9.4m from pounds 25.7m in 1992. Willis Corroon has recently continued its withdrawal from underwriting with the sale of its 64 per cent stake in Gryphon, a US company.
Lower interest rates led to a fall in investment income from pounds 57.3m to pounds 55.6m.
Earnings were up sharply from pounds 26.5m to pounds 47.1m, which translates to a 24 per cent rise to 10.9p in earnings per share. Willis Corroon is maintaining last year's 6.6p dividend with a first interim of 1.65p.
Willis Corroon has opened new broking offices in Mexico, Taiwan and Venezuela, as well as risk management consultancies in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands.