Close Brothers  

Virus turmoil sees £1bn assets wiped from Close Brothers AM

Virus turmoil sees £1bn assets wiped from Close Brothers AM

Market turmoil driven by the global coronavirus pandemic saw client assets worth £1bn wiped from the asset management arm of Close Brothers earlier this year. 

In a trading update published to the market today (May 22) the company stated client assets, which had sat at £14bn at the end of January, dropped to £13bn by the end of April. 

Managed assets dropped from £12.7bn to £11.8bn. 

Despite this Close Brothers said its asset management division had delivered a "resilient performance" in the three-month period with an annualised net inflow rate of 10 per cent year-to-date.

Preben Prebensen, chief executive of Close Brothers, said: "While it remains too early to know the full impact that Covid-19 will have on the UK economy, we are confident that our tried and tested business model and the deep experience of our people leave us well prepared to respond to the challenges and opportunities ahead, protect our colleagues, and continue supporting our customers and clients."

In September last year Mr Prebensen announced he was resigning as chief executive after ten years in the role, but would remain with the company for the coming 12 months as it searched for a successor. 

Close Brothers said it had not furloughed any of its staff, with the majority of employees set up to work from home, and had therefore not claimed on the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The company said: "As previously announced on 2 April 2020, the board decided to cancel the payment of the 2020 interim dividend, recognising the significant challenges currently faced by businesses and individuals, and consistent with our purpose of helping the people and businesses of Britain.

"The board will consider the payment of a full year dividend in respect of the financial year to July 21, 2020, in September, taking into account the group's performance and prevailing conditions at the time." 

Close Brothers Asset Management had a difficult 2019, with a 3 per cent decline in assets in January and sliding profits in March. In July, the company warned its profitability continued to reflect "lower market levels".

In its annual results published in September the firm announced an operating profit of £21.8m for the year ended July 2019 in its asset management division, down 6 per cent from the £23.1m in 2018. 

rachel.mortimer@ft.com 

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