The world's fifth largest insurance broker, Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (JLT), saw its share price rise by 3.8% to 18p this week, bolstered by strong first half year profits.

Profits were up 18% to £42.3m, compared with £35.9m last year. Turnover was up 26% to £173.3m. The board has declared an interim dividend of 6.6p per share, which is a 10% increase on last year's dividend.

Chief executive Ken Carter said: “These results demonstrate the success of acquisitions last year, reflect the harder market and show that we are a competitive alternative to the likes of Marsh and Willis.”

In JLT Risk Solutions, turnover grew to £80.9m, an increase of 17% and the corporate risks and services arm saw a turnover of £92.4m, an increase of 34%.

JLT predicted in February that the current hard market would last for about two years, but now believes it could last longer.

Carter said: “Since February, we have had the high-profile closures of HIH in Australia and Independent. There have been big losses which will put cash flow pressures on the market and there are no new entrants to fill the void.”

The group added that exchange rates and interest rates would affect its future results but it maintained a “prudent policy of hedging such exposures”.

It has been confirmed that chairman John Barton intends to step down to a non-executive role at the end of the year, to be replaced by Ken Carter, who has held the role of chief executive since 1986. Steve McGill, currently deputy chief executive, will become chief executive.

As part of a board reshuffle, John Lloyd, who was chairman of Lloyd Thompson Group before the creation of JLT in 1997, and Vyvienne Wade, the group legal director, will be appointed to the board of JLT at the start of 2002.