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Private healthcare giant Bupa banked a 47% jump in profits after customer numbers grew amid buoyant economic conditions earlier this year.

The privately-owned company, which specialises in insurance and care homes, saw pre-tax profits rise to £166 million during the six months to June 30 after insurance customer numbers increased by 3% boosted by strong growth in the expatriate corporate sector.

But Bupa warned that profits growth would slow during the second half of the year as it increases investment across its core businesses following the sale of its hospital operations in August.

The group's UK insurance business, which provides private medical insurance to 4.3 million customers including expatriates, saw revenues up by 5% to £956.6 million.

Despite the growth, operating profits at the division declined by £9.6 million to £28.4 million due to higher claims levels and increased investment.

UK membership benefited from the specialist MRI network launched in 2006, which gives access to leading radiologists and scanners around the country.

The group's Health Assurance business, which provides life assurance, income protection and critical illness cover, grew membership by 14% during the period, driven by improved products and the launch of an online business facility for brokers.

The group's UK insurance business, which provides private medical insurance to 4.3 million customers, saw revenues up by 5 percent to £956.6 million.

Commenting on the results Chief Executive Val Gooding says:

“Bupa has maintained strong trading momentum in the first half of 2007. Customer numbers have risen strongly, reflecting the attractiveness of BUPA’s high quality health and care services and generally favourable economic conditions in key markets.”

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