Brevan Howard partners share profits during crisis

* 45 partners share 86.1 mln stg in profits

* Turnover 699.9 mln stg for 8 months to end-March ‘09

* Operating expenses 608.5 mln stg includes staff pay

LONDON, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Brevan Howard, Europe’s biggest hedge fund firm, shared a pot of 86.1 million pounds ($132.6 million) between its partners during the nadir of the credit crisis, as its funds made money while others foundered.

The firm, which manages $31.8 billion in assets, made the payment to its 45 partners for the eight months to March 2009, a period that saw Lehman Brothers collapse, credit markets seize up, and the FTSE 100 .FTSE slump below 3,500.

Brevan Howard was co-founded by media-shy former Salomon Brothers trader Alan Howard, who is ranked 66th in this year’s Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated fortune of 875 million pounds.

His firm earned just under 700 million pounds in fees during the eight-month period, according to accounts published on Tuesday. It paid operating expenses, which include its staff’s performance-related pay, of 605.8 million pounds.

The firm’s ability to navigate the crisis was down to the performance of its flagship Master fund, a global macro portfolio that bets on bond and currency markets, which rose 21 percent in 2008 and 19 percent last year.

In contrast, the average fund lost roughly 20 percent in 2008’s market turmoil, while nearly 1,500 funds folded altogether.

The firm has also been helped by investors’ preference for what they see as the greater security of larger firms since the crisis began.

Brevan Howard Master fund, which is now closed to new investors, is up 1.39 percent in the first six months of this year -- a period, in which the average fund gained 0.63 percent, according to the Dow Jones Credit Suisse Hedge Fund index. (To read the Reuters Funds Blog click on; for the Global Investing Blog clickhere) ($1=.6494 Pound) (Editing by Sharon Lindores)