Aascent has been forced to defend its report of a profitable 2004, after angry rivals claimed the company had, in fact, made a loss.

Last week, Insurance Times reported the premium finance company had posted a post-tax profit of £27,000 - its first since it started in March 2003. This figure was not contained in the company's annual report. Instead only a pre-tax loss of £156,145 was shown.

Aascent managing director Kevin O'Flanagan said in a written statement: "The article quoted the correct economic post-tax profit of £27,000 for Aascent in 2004.

"As is common accounting practice, this final figure takes into account both our pre-tax result and the accumulated tax asset not included in the balance sheet as per Note 7 to the 2004 accounts (where the 2004 and 2003 respective amounts are set out).

"In total this asset is valued at £637,857 of which £183,048 relates to 2004, £366,655 to 2003 and £88,154 to 2002 as per FRS19." He added that the company's loan facility was close to renewal for 2006-2007.