Business news in brief: Admiral | AAM | Harry Potter

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Shareholders in Admiral are in line for a bumper dividend following a rise in half-year profits at the car insurer.

The firm, which owns the Bell and Elephant brands and comparison website Confused.com, is paying an interim dividend of 22.5p on 11 October, plus a special payout of 26.4p.

First-half profits grew to £181.4 million, up from £171.8m a year earlier, as a fall in claims helped to offset a 7 per cent drop in turnover to £1 billion.

Chief Henry Engelhardt said: “Any time you can increase profits by 6 per cent when competitors are cutting prices you’ve got to be happy.”

Boardroom change at Aberdeen Asset

Aberdeen Asset Management yesterday appointed Akira Suzuki as a non-executive director.

Suzuki is executive officer and general manager in the fund research and development division of Mitsubishi Trust and Banking Corporation in Japan.

He has replaced Kenichi Miyanaga, who also works for the Mitsubishi group, and who resigned from the fund management outfit yesterday.

Aberdeen’s chairman Roger Cornick thanked Miyanaga for his “valuable contribution and commitment” since joining the company in November 2009.

Losses narrowing as SeaEnergy changes

SEAENERGY narrowed its losses during the opening six months of the year to £612,000 from £1.7 million as the Aberdeen-based firm switches from being a wind farm developer and oil and gas investor into an energy services outfit.

The group’s Return to Scene business – which uses sensors to assess oil rigs, ships and other assets – reported “substantial growth with new North Sea clients and international expansion”. Chairman David Sigsworth said: “SeaEnergy has made substantial progress with its energy services strategy and is moving towards profitability.”

Salz named chair of Harry Potter group

Sir Anthony Salz, the former corporate lawyer who led a review into the culture at Barclays after the bank was embroiled in the Libor scandal, has been named as the new chairman of Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury.

Salz, the executive vice-chairman of investment bank Rothschild, takes over from Jeremy Wilson, who is stepping down after six years at the helm.

In his report on Barclays, Salz said the group had become “too complex to manage” and needed to go further in overhauling its pay practices.