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Jeffrey Orr (second left), president and chief executive officer of Power Financial Corp., poses for a photo with Power Financial co-chairs Paul Desmarais Jr. (left), his brother Andre Desmarais (far right) and Paul Desmarais (second right), chairman of the executive committee of Power Corporation of Canada prior to the company's annual general meeting in Montreal, May 12, 2009.Christinne Muschi/Reuters

Power Financial Corp.'s quarterly profit rose 37 per cent, helped by the release of a litigation provision at its Great-West Lifeco Inc. insurance subsidiary, the company said Wednesday.

The Montreal-based company earned $533-million, or 75 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, up from $389-million, or 55 cents per share, in the year-before period.

Excluding items, operating profit was 60 cents per share. Analysts had expected, on average, a profit of 59 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Power Financial, which is controlled by Montreal's Desmarais family through its Power Corp. holding company, also owns a majority interest in Canadian mutual fund company IGM Financial and a major stake in Swiss-based Pargesa Holding SA.

Profit was boosted by a $88-million gain related to a reduction in litigation provisions originally taken by Great-West in 2010.

On an operating basis, Great-West contributed $342-million to Power Financial's profit, up from $319-million, while IGM contributed $113-million, down from $119-million.

Later Wednesday, Power Corp. reported its quarterly profit rose 37 per cent on stronger results at the financial services subsidiary, the holding company said on Wednesday.

Power earned $314-million, or 68 cents a share, in the fourth quarter. That compared with a year-earlier profit of $229-million, or 50 cents a share.