International reinsurance broker PWS Holdings has boosted its year-end pre-tax profits by ten per cent to £1.3 million, (up from £1.2m in September 1998).

Group chairman Lord Pearson of Rannoch said the stock exchange-quoted company was confident the progress would continue in 2000.

PWS plans to boost its global presence by opening further distribution channels this year, complementing its new offices in Mexico, the Philippines and Malaysia.

PWS's Malaysian operation, which opened during the Asian economic crisis two years ago, enjoyed income growth of 250% last year.

Peter Smith, group managing director, said PWS has continued to benefit from market consolidation which has reduced competitors.

Nearly all of its London-based and overseas divisions, including international property, treaty division, and professional risks, increased their revenue. The only exception was marine, where revenue remained flat.

Overall, PWS achieved a 17% increase in the underlying volume of its account and a 13.4% rise in its brokerage income.

Smith attributed PWS's success to meeting the reinsurance market's demand for a more aggressive and focused type of specialist broker, able to provide a high-quality service.

This was despite rates in the reinsurance market being kept low by a significant influx of capital in recent months.

The recent renewal season did nothing to convince Smith that rates are improving, except for some parts of the badly affected retrocession market.

He stressed: "We remain confident, however, that even if rates remain low, we can increase our business."

The board has proposed an increased net dividend of 0.85p per share for the full year.

Shares in PWS increased by 0.5p to 18.5p following publication of its results. However this was less than its recent peak of 19p in December 1999.