Close Brothers Group has posted an adjusted operating profit of £134.2m for the six months to 31 January 2017, an increase of 21% from £111.2m a year ago.

The group’s profit attributable to shareholders rose to £96.8m from £88.6m a year ago. The merchant banking group, which provides loans, wealth management and securities trading services, increased its first-half dividend to 20 pence, up 5% on last year.

All  banking segments of the group reported  adjusted  operating  profit  growth,  with  Retail  Finance  up  3%, Commercial Finance up 9% and Property Finance up 29%. Operating profit at its market-making arm, Winterflood Securities, more than doubled to £14.4m in the first half.

Close Brothers CEO Preben Prebensen said: “All parts of our business performed well in the period. Our three banking segments, retail finance, commercial finance and property finance, all reported profit growth and strong returns, while both Winterflood and asset management benefited from favourable markets.

“Trading conditions have clearly been favourable in the first half, but as always our priority remains to protect, sustain and invest in our business for the long term. Our service-driven model, focused on specialist markets, has allowed us to support our clients, invest in our business and generate strong returns for shareholders over many years.”

Alongside the results, the group also named Mike Biggs as it new chairman. Biggs, who is also chairman of Direct Line, will succeed Strone Macpherson who will retire on 30 April 2017.

Biggs has joined the company’s board with immediate effect and will become chairman from 1 May 2017.

"The board would like to thank Strone for his unwavering commitment and very substantial contribution to the group over many years and wish him every success for the future," a statement said.