Savills has halved its final dividend after suffering a 61% fall in profits last year.

The property services firm this morning revealed that underlying pretax profits fell from £85.5m to £33.2m last year in line with analyst forecasts.

However, the firm made a £45.4m impairment charge, which reflected a writedown in the goodwill of previously acquired businesses and co-investments in Cordea Savills funds.

This led to a pretax loss of £7.7m.

Its transactional business was hardest hit, enduring a 93% fall in profit before tax from £48.6m to £3.2m as a result of the lack of commercial and residential investment activity last year.

Profits within the transactional business from the UK commercial business dropped 56% to £7.8m, but were more resilient than in the European business which suffered a loss before tax of £7.8m and the US business which lost £0.2m.

Savills said that it had matched the fall in transactions with a 47% cut in bonuses and commissions.

It slashed costs by £22m last year and identified £22m of savings it could make in 2009.

Revenue dropped 13% from £568.5m compared to £650.5m in 2007.

Jeremy Helsby, chief executive at Savills, said: ‘With the outlook remaining uncertain, we anticipate a difficult year ahead. However, the strength of our balance sheet, the diversity of our business streams and the quality of our people mean we are well positioned to ride out the downturn and then deliver controlled, sustainable long-term growth for our shareholders.

‘We remain alert to the challenges ahead and will continue to focus on cost discipline, prudent capital management and, most importantly, providing the very highest service to our clients.’

Savills shares dropped 6.8% to 234.75p on the back of the results.