After an extended period of back peddling, London-based software house Sherwood International Plc is hoping for a piggy back ride from the big information technology consultancies to ease it into the massive international life assurance market. The reinsurance, life and pensions software house has just reported net profits for the six months to June 30 up 41.3% at 678,000 pounds on revenues that rose 10.7% to 13.1m pounds. For the last couple of years, Sherwood has been selling off its peripheral interests to concentrate on its reinsurance and life and pensions applications, Senator and Amarta. More specifically, Sherwood has spent heavily on porting its Amarta product to work on the Oracle Corp database, which along with its Informix Software Inc version, allows it to cover an estimated 60% of the life assurance and pensions market. Recognizing the international potential of Amarta, but not wanting the risk or expense of setting up major overseas operations, Sherwood looked for strategic partners to work with. In April this year it teamed up with the US consulting arm of accountancy giants Deloitte & Touche for a window into the massive US market. Deloitte Consulting focuses on the top 200 US insurance companies, which in themselves constitute a market bigger than the UK. This has just produced its first business in the shape of a contract with Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, the fifth largest life assurance company in the US. Sherwood collects the licence revenues, typically around 650,000 pounds while Deloitte will pick up the lucrative implementation and consultancy business, up to four or five times this amount. A similar deal has been hatched with Q Data Consulting to sell Amarta into Southern Africa, so far producing two large contracts. Finance director Steve Bellamy thinks the appeal of the package lies in its flexibility. Over a typical 18 month implementation period, customers receive something close to a bespoke solution without the time or expense traditionally involved in custom designed software. After a solid run last week, the shares were down 8 pence at 317.5 pence. The board has proposed an interim dividend of 1.8 pence, up 20%.
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