* Total new business up 15 percent at 335.6 mln stg
* Interim dividend up 58 pct at 3.2 pence
* Funds under management at 29 bln stg
(Adds detail, CEO comment, analyst view, updates shares)
By Christopher Vellacott
LONDON, July 28 British wealth manager St
James's Place Plc unveiled a 58 percent hike in its
interim dividend on Thursday and posted a 15 percent increase in
sales during the first half of 2011 as investors continued to
buy into its fund products.
The firm struck an upbeat tone in first-half earnings that
comfortably matched market forecasts, with Chief Executive David
Bellamy saying: "Despite the continued economic and market
uncertainty, our business is in great shape."
In an interview Bellamy told Reuters the company, which
contracts out management of its funds, would broaden its product
range by launching a new global equity fund in September and
adding three new managers.
The company's most closely watched measure of new business
-- a combination of regular and single premiums -- grew to 335.6
million pounds from 292.6 milliona year earlier, St James's
Analysts at JP Morgan Cazenove had forecast first-half sales
up 12 percent year on year at 328 million pounds.
St James's Place, which is majority owned by Lloyds Banking
Group , also posted a net inflow of funds of 1.7 billion
pounds, up 13 percent, leaving funds under management 8 percent
higher since the start of the year at 29.1 billion.
"(First half) results highlights that SJP is not dependent
on financial markets for growth, that operating performance
remains positive, and that it is capable of translating this
into improved cash returns for shareholders," said Deutsche Bank
analysts in a note to clients.
St James's Place shares were trading 1 percent lower at 0815
(Editing by Sinead Cruise and David Holmes)