Aberdeen assets up to £301bn despite outflows

Aberdeen Asset Management CEO Martin Gilbert

Aberdeen Asset Management said it had net outflows of £8.9 billion during the quarter to June 30 but this was offset by £17.5 billion of asset appreciation.

Assets under management at the international fund manager rose to £301.4 billion from £292.8 billion at March 31.

The company’s share price rose almost 3% to 325p in morning trading, giving it a current stock market value of around £4.3 billion.

Aberdeen said in a trading update the weakening of sterling against most major currencies “aided by resilient markets and good investment performance” contributed to the increased value of its assets.

The firm said the last week of June saw “considerable market volatility as investors reacted to the result of the UK referendum on EU membership” with initial weakness in the days after the vote then “overtaken by a strong recovery which has continued into July.”

Aberdeen said: “While the eventual shape of the UK’s new relationship with the EU will inevitably remain uncertain until political negotiations follow their course, Aberdeen is well positioned operationally, with well-established and substantial businesses both in the UK and in Luxembourg.

“The UK open-end property funds sector was particularly affected following the referendum, as investors’ concerns about the impact on property values in London and elsewhere increased, and these concerns were exacerbated following the decision by competitor funds to suspend dealing.

“Aberdeen was well prepared for such uncertainty, with a high level of cash held within the UK Property Fund, the only Aberdeen fund with exposure to these issues.

“We introduced a week long suspension to enable our investors to consider the action we took to protect the interests of long term investors while enabling sellers to exit the fund at a price more reflective of the short term market conditions.”

Aberdeen said net outflows from equities showed a small improvement on the previous quarter, “partly reflecting investors’ comfort with their current exposure to emerging markets.”

It said equity investment performance had continued to recover strongly, “as markets have again begun to favour the high quality stocks that populate our portfolios.”

Aberdeen said its property funds team won new commitments for new fund launches but the latest quarter saw some withdrawals of Nordic mandates by institutional investors.

In its outlook, Aberdeen said it expects some continuing volatility in UK and European equity markets as the political negotiations around Brexit proceed.

But it added: “However, broader equity markets have been reasonably resilient, as have other asset classes.”

Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen, said: “We continue to benefit from the diversified asset and client base of the business.

“Currency, exposure to a broad mix of assets and good investment performance outweighed the net outflows the business experienced this quarter.

“There are many uncertainties out there, including the shape of the UK’s future relationship with the EU, which might undermine market confidence.

“We remain well placed to take advantage, on behalf of our clients, of any weakness and will continue to focus on fundamentals rather than be distracted by market noise.”