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Newcastle-based accounts giant Sage increased profits by 17 per cent in the first half of the year. Pre-tax profits were £86.7m for the six months ended 31 March, up from £51.2m for the same period last year. Turnover grew by 23 per cent from £270m to £332.5m.

Sage added 146,000 new customers in the period and gained another 900,000 by acquisition. This gives it a total of 4.3m accounting customers. The company bought Timberline, Grupo SP and Softline in Autumn 2003. In January 2004 it acquired Australian and South African accounts company ACCPAC from Computer Associates for $110m.

Sage chairman Michael Jackson welcomed the results: "They demonstrate the value of our key asset, our large and growing customer base of over 4 million SMEs, to which we are successfully selling our extensive range of products and services. They also show the early contribution from our four recent acquisitions where integration into the Group is proceeding swiftly and effectively."

Jackson added that market conditions were "substantially unchanged" but remained confident for the year ahead.

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