Results boosted by 65% increase in revenues from Middle East business

HSBC Insurance Brokers, which has finally been given the green light by UK regulators to merge with Marsh, increased its pre-tax profits in 2009 by 20% and revenue by 7%, writes Saxon East.

Profits rose from £14.5m in 2008 to £17.5m last year and revenue was up from £146.3m to £156.4m.

HSBC’s UK book remained flat, with a large part of the firm’s growth driven by the Middle East.

Chief executive Philip Gregory said: “I am pleased to report that we achieved continuing growth in 2009 with our revenues increasing by 7%.

“In particular, I would like to highlight the excellent growth that we achieved in the Middle East, where our 2009 revenues increased by 65%.

“Our revenues in the UK were flat, which reflected the effects of the recession on many of our clients.

“Pre-tax profits increased by 20% in 2009, reflecting the improved efficiencies from our investment in the business. The improved profitability was achieved despite an 80% reduction in interest receivable caused by lower interest rates.”

Last week, the Office of Fair Trading said it would not be referring the HSBC and Marsh deal to the Competition Commission. The OFT checks all major deals on competition grounds.

Marsh agreed to buy HSBC Insurance Brokers for £135m last December and is expected to announce this month that the deal has been finalised.

The merger will trigger the final departure of Gregory, whose contract was with the holding company owned by the bank.

Gregory was previously chief operating and chief financial officer at Marsh’s Europe, Middle East and Africa division. He was recruited to head up HSBC Insurance Brokers after Mike Dixon stepped down in May 2007.