Benfield Group's chief executive has insisted that its primary broking division will become profitable in 2007.

The division, Benfield Corporate Risk (BCR), posted a £9.4m trading loss for the first half of 2006.

The company admitted that the division was "not expected to break even in 2006 due to slower than expected revenue growth".

But Benfield Group chief executive Grahame Chilton said BCR had, nonetheless, got off to a "flying start" in its first year of trading.

"We are far more advanced than we expected to be. More customers are talking to us and we have growth in the pipeline. We have the staff, we have the infrastructure and we are now getting the revenue flow through."

Chilton said the division would "hit profitability in 2007", adding that the company's forecasts had been "prudent".

BCR posted revenues of £7.6m in the first six months of the year, more than double the £3.7m it posted in the first half of 2005.

Net costs increased to £17m in the half, up from £7.6m. This, the company said, was anticipated and reflected in part the recruitment of new staff.

Benfield Group reported half-year operating revenues of £252.1m up from £196.2m in 2005. The group trading result was £107.9m compared to £82m last year.