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Close Brothers Profit Rises 16% as Loan Impairments Fall

March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Close Brothers Group Plc, the British financial services company founded in 1878, said profit for the first half rose 16 percent as loan impairments fell.

Net income for the six months through January rose to 58.8 million pounds ($87.6 million) from 50.5 million pounds, the London-based lender said in a statement. Loan impairments fell 14 percent to 25.8 million pounds.

Close Brothers has been restructuring its funds business and in 2011 sold its advisory, U.K. offshore and Cayman Islands operations to focus on banking, securities and asset management. The lender’s loan book grew 6 percent.

“Our margins stayed solid and bad debts improved,” Chief Executive Officer Preben Prebensen said in a telephone interview. The lender’s average 13-month duration for loans means it can quickly re-price riskier loans, he said.

Close Brothers closed at 1,075 pence in London, down 0.9 percent on the day. The shares have increased 25 percent this year, giving the company a market value of 1.59 billion pounds.

-- Editors: Jon Menon, Keith Campbell

To contact the reporter on this story: Howard Mustoe in London at hmustoe@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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