February 29, 2012 / 6:36 PM / in 5 years

Hedge fund firm Man Group hopes to stem outflows

3 Min Read

* Net outflows in past two quarters

* Share price more than halved over past year

* Investors to focus on future dividend policy

* AHL performance improves this year

By Laurence Fletcher

LONDON, Mar 1 (Reuters) - Investors will hope that Man Group can finally show signs it is winning back clients and will hold its dividend when the world's biggest listed hedge fund manager posts its results on Thursday.

The firm, whose shares have more than halved over the past year on investor concerns about outflows and the performance of its funds, is likely to give an indication of sales so far this year, during which most financial markets have rebounded.

Man, which bought rival GLG Partners in 2010 to boost assets and diversify its business, has suffered net client outflows in every quarter over the past three years, apart from the first two quarters of last year.

In September it reported its fastest rate of outflows since early 2009 and in January this year reported further withdrawals, albeit at a slightly reduced rate.

"It wouldn't surprise me if fund flows are negative in January and February. People are going to say that the rate of outflows has fallen, but that doesn't excite me," Peter Lenardos, analyst at RBC Capital Markets, told Reuters.

On Wednesday fund firm Henderson Group posted net outflows of 6.4 billion pounds ($10.22 billion) last year.

Man is shifting the timing of its financial year and is set to post its results for the nine months to end-December.

Investors will also focus on Man's dividend, which is not fully covered by earnings, and look for signs as to what it will do with its $850 million of regulatory capital surplus. The firm has been buying back shares in recent months.

In January Man said it would pay a dividend of 16.5 cents a share for the nine-month period, which equates to an annual payment of 22 cents.

"Buybacks are fine, if it can afford them," said Lenardos. "If the dividend is cut that could be negatively received ... I'll be looking if they announce a dividend policy (going forward)."

Investors are likely to be encouraged by the upturn in performance of its flagship computer-driven fund AHL, which lost 7.1 percent last year but is up 2.4 percent so far this year.

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