De La Rue silent on drachma as revenues rise

DE LA Rue chief executive Tim Cobbold refused to comment on rumours that the money-printing company is preparing to make a new Greek drachma as the firm unveiled a 73 per cent rise in underlying profits.

Posting an underlying pre-tax profit of £57.7m for the year to March, the banknote printer said that it has made “good progress” on its improvement plan, which Cobbold put in place when he took over the firm at the start of last year.

But overall, the firm made less money than during the previous year because it spent £24m on that plan. Cobbold would not confirm reports that De La Rue has begun preparing to print a new Greek drachma, though he said producing a new currency would need to be done ahead of time because it takes months.

Industry specialist Nick Mockett of Moorgate Capital said: “If there were to be a new drachma, De la Rue would be well placed to produce it, but it does not have a monopoly in this market by any means.”

In addition to banknotes, De La Rue’s products also include IDs, cheques and stamps. Revenues from identity products, such as British passports, contributed £12m to a 14 per cent rise in revenues last year, which topped £528m. Cobbold says the firm is “on track” to reach its 2013-14 target for operating profit of £100m – versus £63m in the last year.

The firm’s share price is now also far above the 905p price at which a French rival Oberthur tried to snap it up early last year after it had a run of printing problems that saw it lose a major client, the Reserve Bank of India. Since then, De La Rue has won new clients such as South Sudan, after the region voted for independence.