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Clarkson Sales Jump as Finance Unit Doubles Revenue

Clarkson Plc reported a 25 percent increase in first-half revenue, led by advances in its support and financial businesses, as the world’s largest shipbroker said it saw some evidence of recovering markets.

Sales rose to 111.7 million pounds ($187 million) from 89.1 million pounds a year earlier, the London-based company said in a statement today. Underlying pretax profit increased 46 percent to 15.8 million pounds.

“We have seen some tentative signs of recovery in certain areas of the market,” Chief Executive Officer Andi Case said in the statement. The company “will be at the forefront of the market recovery as and when we see sustained improvements.”

The shipping industry has been hurt by overcapacity and falling prices since the global financial crisis. Clarkson’s strategy of “broadening its base” helped to drive growth, Case said in a phone interview. “We aim to be the number one in every space, not just by market sector but by geography as well.” The company has operations in 18 countries and the bulk of its business is in arranging for ships to carry cargo.

Clarkson shares rose 1.5 percent to 2,200 pence at 3:28 p.m. in London, taking the advance to 10 percent this year and giving the company a market value of about 418 million pounds.

First-half revenue from support services at ports climbed to 14.1 million pounds from 7.2 million pounds, while financial sales more than doubled to 8.4 million pounds from 3.9 million pounds. Broking sales climbed 15 percent to 84.5 million pounds.

Maritime Banking

Financial sales were helped as the Clarkson Capital Markets unit won more business to advance in the maritime banking sector, according to the statement.

Growth in the support business was helped by the acquisition of Gibb Tools last year, and the purchase of Belfast-based port agent Michael F. Ewings (Shipping) Ltd. in June, which will increase geographic reach and help strategy, particularly in offshore and dry cargo, Clarkson said.

“We have done a number of transactions over the last few years and we’re still looking at opportunities,” Case said in the interview. Last year the company made hirings across a number of business areas, and “we also see the opportunity to hire more key staff,” he said.

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