MONACO, June 24 British fund manager Aberdeen
Asset Management Plc sees greater than forecast savings
from its recent SWIP acquisition and expects to raise its
dividend this year, as well as seeing scope to buy back shares,
its chief executive said on Tuesday.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Fund Forum conference in
Monaco on Tuesday, Martin Gilbert said the integration of SWIP
was going well and the group was focused on "the hard bit",
around front-office integration, which should be finished in the
next two to three weeks.
Once the acquisition from Lloyds Banking Group Plc
was complete, Gilbert saw cost savings from the deal exceeding
the previously expected total of between 48 million pounds
($81.6 million) and 50 million, although he declined to comment
He reiterated a plan to increase the dividend and buy back
shares. "We'd really like to see the dividend increasing and
then buying back shares after that."
With analysts predicting a flat year in terms of earnings,
Gilbert said he would still look to increase the dividend and
said broker estimates for an increase of between 10 and 15
percent were "not unreasonable".
In the full year to Sept. 30, 2013, Aberdeen - based in the
Scottish city after which it is named - increased its dividend
39 percent to 16 pence. The 2014 half-year payout was up 12.5
percent to 6.75 pence.
Aberdeen recently warned its profits had been hit by clients
pulling money out of its core emerging markets funds and Gilbert
said that after a "difficult" 2013 for emerging market equity
outflows, which continued into the first two months of 2014, the
outflow had slowed in March and was now "broadly
He also said he had no near-term plans to add to a run of
acquisitions, most recently of SWIP which was completed at the
end of March.
"This financial year, to 30th September, is the year when we
integrate SWIP. The next financial year is when we see a clean
set of numbers for our business and we're hoping to see growth,
especially in those areas we've just beefed up," including fixed
income and UK property, he said.
"We've no plans to do any (more) acquisitions and we're not
in discussions with anyone."
With Scotland due to vote on whether to leave the United
Kingdom on Sept. 18, Gilbert said Aberdeen would stick to a
neutral stance on the issue of independence - contrasting with
peers such as Standard Life Plc who have gone public with
concerns about the implications of a "yes" vote.
"The people that have (taken a stance) have taken it for
whatever reason, only they will know. But I'm not sure it's been
the best strategy, to take a stance, because you do run the risk
of attracting criticism from whatever side of the equation.
"I think it's best, on this occasion, to keep your head
($1 = 0.5880 British Pounds)
(Editing by David Holmes)