Plus500 leaves woes behind thanks to market swings

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Wildly swinging markets are helping spread-betting firm Plus500 shrug off a ban on signing up new UK customers last year, the business said.

The Financial Conduct Authority imposed the freeze last May as the Atletico Madrid sponsor carried out money-laundering checks on clients.

Existing UK customers were eventually allowed to trade again, but Plus500 did not begin signing up new UK clients until the beginning of this year. 

The hiatus had an impact on the flow of new customers in the last three months of 2015 — down 18% — but over the course of the year, overall, the number of  customers trading with the firm has risen 29% to 136,540. 

Underlying earnings for 2015 were down 8% to $132.9 million (£93.2 million), but shares rose 5% or 24p to 534p as Plus500 reported improved margins since the beginning of the year “with market volatility attracting both strong revenues and new customers”.

The shares are 30% off where they were before the FCA’s intervention, but well above the opportunistic 400p-a-share bid made by Israeli tycoon Teddy Sagi’s Playtech in the immediate wake of the crisis.

The company is paying out its entire net profit last year — $96.6 million — in dividends.

The FCA carried out sample checks on 10 spread-betters and found them vulnerable to financial crime. Plus500 said today it was not in the sample.

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February 18, 2016 |
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