Man Group suffers client outflows, plans more job cuts

LONDON Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:07pm GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Man Group Plc (EMG.L) announced further job cuts on Wednesday after suffering heavy client exits, as the world's biggest listed hedge fund manager was hit by poor returns from its flagship fund and investor nerves over choppy financial markets.

The company, which shocked investors in September when it reported its fastest rate of outflows since early 2009, said clients pulled out a net $2.5 billion (1.6 billion pounds) of their money over the three months through December, roughly in line with analyst forecasts.

"We are seeing investors respond to performance and market sentiment," Chief Executive Peter Clarke told reporters, although he added that net outflows slowed last month and were "markedly less than a third" of total outflows for the quarter.

Analyst David McCann at brokerage Numis said: "Whilst flows have improved it's still not exactly what you call great ... It's hard to really see any great news on the horizon but then again I don't think you need to have any great news given the (depressed share) price."

Man, whose shares rallied 4.6 percent to 112.95 pence by 0933 GMT, having slumped from around 300p a year ago, also said it would cut an extra $75 million from costs on top of previously-announced savings of $40 million.

Clarke said the cuts, which amount to around 10 percent of Man's cost base, would be made across the board and would involve job cuts, although he declined to give further details.

"(The) numbers (were) bang in line with reduced expectations, but cost savings are an unexpected positive," said Citi analyst Haley Tam in a note.

The total dividend will be 16.5 cents for the nine months to December. Analysts have speculated on the sustainability of the payment, although Numis's McCann said he didn't think it would be cut this year.

In November Man announced a $150 million share buyback in an effort to put a floor under its sagging market value.

AHL LOSSES

Man's outflows continue to be driven largely by retail investors rather than institutions such as pension funds.

Client exits slowed at Man's GLG unit, which it bought for $1.6 billion in 2010 in a deal that has been criticised by some commentators, but picked up at flagship computer-driven fund AHL.

The $21 billion fund, which is named after 1980s founders Michael Adam, David Harding and Martin Lueck and which tries to make money following market trends, lost 6.4 percent in 2011.

Clarke attributed losses over the three months to December to sharp market reversals, which meant it was "not a good environment for faster trading strategies."

In contrast, Winton Capital, a rival to AHL which was also set up by Harding after he left AHL and which now runs $28 billion in assets, saw its main fund gain 6.3 percent last year.

AHL is now on average 12 percent from its so-called high-water mark, the level above which it earns lucrative performance fees.

Meanwhile half of GLG's assets are at or within 5 percent of this level. In 2011 GLG's European Long-Short, run by star manager Pierre Lagrange, rose 7.2 percent in performance terms but its Alpha Select fund, managed by John White, fell 10.2 percent, although performance has picked up this month.

Man's total assets under management fell to $58.4 billion at end-December from $63.5 billion at end-October.

Man also said GLG founder Noam Gottesman, who is dating "Kill Bill" actress Lucy Liu, has stood down as co-CEO of GLG and taken the role of non-executive chairman of GLG's business and interests in the United States.

"He has his own personal interests he wants to pursue," said Clarke. "He continues to be active in the U.S. business."

(Additional reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Sinead Cruise and David Holmes)

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