St James's Place hikes dividend 50 pct as sales rise

LONDON, July 31 Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:35am EDT

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LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - Upmarket British wealth manager St James's Place celebrated a further rise in first half sales by hiking its dividend a greater-than-forecast 50 percent.

In an earnings statement for the half year to June 30, the company said its most closely watched measure of sales, which combines regular and single premiums, was 426.5 million pounds ($650.8 million), 21 percent higher than a year ago.

Net inflows of funds under management was also 32 percent higher at 1.99 billion pounds, taking total funds under management to 39.9 billion pounds.

While St James's Place grew last year in spite of concerns over the effects of Europe's debt crisis on investor sentiment, CEO David Bellamy on Wednesday attributed the stronger growth in the first half of 2013 to "more stable market conditions".

The interim dividend is 6.38 pence, above analyst forecasts of 5.64 pence.

In May state-backed Lloyds Banking Group sold a 15 percent stake in the wealth manager, raising 450 million pounds.

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