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Prestige Insurance Holdings: More good progress expected

By JOHN SIMPSON

Prestige Insurance Holdings is registered in Carrickfergus and was incorporated and commenced trading in 2008. Prior to the registration of this company, Prestige Underwriting Services had traded successfully and then became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the new company.

The directors describe the principal activities of the group as acting as an underwriting agent and insurance broking, along with the development and sale of software products.

The group has, for the past five years, enjoyed a consistent level of annual turnover which, in the most recent year, fell by 14% to £34.6m. The recent fall in turnover was accompanied by reduced operating and pre-tax profits. A feature of the business is the capitalisation of intangible assets recorded on the balance sheet as £35.6m and being amortised over an estimated economic life of 20 years. Another feature of the business is the significant level of interest costs which, each year, means that pre-tax results are nearly £1m lower than operating profits.

The annual accounts each year report on levels of activity in acquiring other businesses. In 2012, Prestige Underwriting Services (Ireland) purchased the trade of PJ Dunne Insurance Brokers. Also, the group acquired the remaining 50% of Agnew Financial Services and the remaining 35% of Houston Thornton & Co.

The amortisation charge taken from the profit and loss account was £2.5m. At the end of the trading year, there were 12 trading subsidiaries of the group, nine of which were 100% owned.

The average number of staff in the group in 2012-13 was 515. This was a fall of 9% from the highest level recorded in 2009 of 568 people. The level of short-term bank borrowing in March 2013 fell to £4.3m. Longer term borrowing (for over one year) has reduced steadily in each of the last five years, from an initial £28.5m in 2009 to just over £9m in March 2013.

Anticipating trading conditions in 2013-14, the directors say that conditions will continue to be very challenging, but early results are satisfactory and the expectation is of 'another year of good progress'.

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