Plus500 is back in the game with new clients

The FCA imposed the freeze last May while the Atletico Madrid sponsor carried out money-laundering checks on clients

Russell Lynch
Thursday 18 February 2016 01:08
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Over the course of the year overall, the number of  customers trading with the firm is up 29% to 136,540.
Over the course of the year overall, the number of customers trading with the firm is up 29% to 136,540.

Wildly swinging markets are helping spread betting firm Plus500 shrug off a ban on signing up new UK customers last year due to money-laundering fears, the company has said.

The Financial Conduct Authority imposed the freeze last May while the Atletico Madrid sponsor carried out money-laundering checks on clients. Existing UK customers were eventually allowed to trade again, but Plus500 did not begin signing up new UK clients until the beginning of this year.

The hiatus impacted the flow of new customers in the last three months of 2015 – down 18 per cent – but over the course of the year overall, the number of customers trading with the firm is up 29 per cent to 136,540.

Underlying earnings for 2015 were down 8 per cent to $132.9m (£93.2m), but its shares rose 4 per cent or 20p to 530p as Plus500 reported improved margins since the beginning of the year “with market volatility attracting both strong revenues and new customers”.

The shares are still 30 per cent below levels seen before the Financial Conduct Authority’s intervention last year, but are well above the opportunistic 400p a share bid made by the Israeli tycoon Teddy Sagi’s Playtech in the immediate wake of the crisis. The company is paying out its entire net profit last year – $96.6m – in dividends.

Spread betters remain under scrutiny after the City watchdog carried out sample checks on 10 firms and found them vulnerable to financial crime. Plus500 said today that it was not included in the sample.

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