Standard Life Aberdeen first-half assets up 5% as market gains offset outflows

FILE PHOTO: The offices of Standard Life Aberdeen in Saint Andrew Square Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

LONDON (Reuters) - British asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen SLA.L on Wednesday posted a 5% rise in first-half assets under management and administration as market gains more than offset continued net outflows of client cash.

Total assets at the end of the period were 577.5 billion pounds, up from 551.5 billion at the end of December. Positive market moves added 41.2 billion pounds, against net outflows of 15.9 billion pounds.

The exit of clients from higher-margin products such as its Global Absolute Return Strategies, crimped revenues, however, with fee-based income during the period down to 815 million pounds from 966 million a year earlier.

The outflows followed a pattern set earlier in the reporting season by sector rivals including Schroders SDR.L, Jupiter Fund Management JUP.L, Amundi AMUN.PA and Man Group EMG.L.

A reduction in operating expenses combined with its share of profits from Phoenix Group PHNX.L, which bought most of SLA's insurance business as part of a broader venture, and in which SLA retains a stake, helped cushion the hit.

SLA said cost-cutting plans remain on track, with 234 million pounds of the 350 million pounds a year in targeted savings already achieved.

Adjusted pretax profit in the period was 280 million pounds from 311 million a year earlier, while the interim dividend remained unchanged at 7.3 pence a share.

Reporting by Simon Jessop, editing by Sinead Cruise