IPF knocked by tough conditions in Europe

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​Credit lender International Personal Finance said its underlying business is improving, but profits were hit by challenging conditions in Europe and foreign exchange rates, which knocked £8m off half-year profits.

The Leeds-based group is also facing a possible knock-back if regulatory changes are introduced in its key Polish market.

CEO Gerard Ryan said: “We’ve had a little bit of a trial over the past few weeks which is down to news in Poland. The market doesn’t like uncertainty. We can’t tell how it will move forward.”

The uncertainty relates to potential legal changes in Poland that could result in a new cap on consumer loans.

“Our primary aim is to adapt our products so we are 100 per cent compliant,” said Mr Ryan, who added it is unclear how much the changes will cost in terms of lost profit.

He was speaking as the firm announced an eight per cent fall in profits in the six months to June 30 to £43.3m following exceptional costs, investment in new business and the £8m currency hit.

The group has tightened credit quality controls and said its Mexican operation had enjoyed a “storming” first half following investment in agents and a new reward scheme.

Mr Ryan said the newly formed online business is performing well and it plans to enter the Spanish market towards the end of the year.

The group also announced another share buyback programme.

Analyst Gary Greenwood at Shore Capital said: “Underlying business momentum is improving, in terms of credit issuance, albeit at a slightly slower pace due to ongoing weakness in Eastern Europe.”

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