Alexander Forbes has delayed plans to list on the London Stock Exchange.

The South African financial group had hoped to seek a listing this year.

Chief executive Graeme Kerrigan was reported as saying the company would wait for up to 18 months.

It wanted to watch the entry of South African banking group Investec into the London market first, Kerrigan said.

A London listing would help the company to raise funds for expansion.

Worldwide finance director Mike Ilsley told Insurance Times last year he expected the process of seeking a listing to take a long time.

Alexander Forbes makes nearly half its profits in Europe, a result of the buy- out of wholesale insurance broker Nelson Hurst in 1997. It acquired 80% of Media Insurance Services the following year.

Earlier this year it bought 80% of UK actuary and consultant Lane Clark & Peacock.

Incoming chief executive Rael Gordon will be based in London when he takes over from Kerrigan next year.

The group's profit before tax increased to Rand 948m (£65.5m) in the 12 months to 31 March from Rand 718m (£49.6m) the year before.

The UK accounts for most of the company's European operations, which reported trading profits up by 29% in sterling terms and revenue up by 25%.

Major factors in the growth were the hardening market, prior acquisitions and devaluation of the South African rand.

The group has three European divisions covering financial services, direct marketing and risk services.

Operational revenue for risk services increased by 95% and trading profit increased by 96%. Its organic revenue growth, excluding acquisitions, stands at 55%.