April 30, 2020 / 6:37 AM / a month ago

St James's Place cuts dividend as first-quarter AUM falls

LONDON (Reuters) - British asset manager St James’s Place (SJP.L) will cut around one third of its proposed final 2019 dividend as its first-quarter assets under management fell 2% to 101.7 billion pounds ($126.78 billion), it said on Thursday.

Many UK companies have halted their dividend payments as the rapid spread of the coronavirus forced countries to impose lockdowns that brought economic activity to a virtual halt, raising fears of a deep recession. Volatile markets have also hit fund management assets.

“With the escalation of the COVID-19 crisis during March there was a sharp decline in global markets and this negatively impacted our funds under management,” Chief Executive Andrew Croft said.

Still, net inflows rose 9% to 2.37 billion pounds from 2.18 billion.

The company’s rivals Ashmore (ASHM.L), Jupiter Fund Management (JUP.L) and Brewin Dolphin (BRW.L) also reported a drop in their assets under management during the period.

Jupiter cancelled its special dividend, but Ashmore and Brewin Dolphin left their dividends intact.

Larger U.S. peer BlackRock’s (BLK.N) AUM fell by nearly a trillion dollars at the end of its fourth quarter due to the market turmoil.

St James’s Place said it will withhold 11.22 pence of its final 2019 dividend, but will pay the other 20 pence per share as a second 2019 interim dividend on May 27 2020 to shareholders on the register on May 11 2020.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn in London and Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Maiya Keidan

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