February 9, 2015 / 10:17 AM / 3 years ago

BinckBank rethinks shareholder payouts after asset manager disappoints

* Asset management arm misses targets

* Q4 net profit down 44 pct at 12.7 mln euros

* Shares fall 7.2 pct

AMSTERDAM, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Dutch discount broker BinckBank has postponed a plan to return excess capital to shareholders after its asset management arm failed to meet targets, it said on Monday, and also warned of potential lawsuits.

BinckBank's Alex Asset Management business aims to profit from market rises and limit losses in a downturn, but it misread some large movements and underperformed in 2014, prompting the dividend rethink.

"The policy pursued by Alex Asset Management in 2014 led to disappointing results for many customers," Chairman Vincent Germyns said on Monday.

In a statement of "risks and uncertainties", the bank also noted the possibility of class action by customers.

Funds at Alex Asset Management dropped by more than 9 percent year on year to 1.95 billion euros ($2.21 billion) at the end of 2014 and Binck said it has pushed back its target for 3.5 billion euros by three years to 2018.

"Based on an assessment of its business prospects, BinckBank does not consider it would be prudent to distribute the available capital in excess of 200 million euros at this time," the bank said, citing European economic weakness as a factor.

Instead, the bank will continue to pay out 50 percent of net profit as a dividend, it said.

ING analysts were caught off guard by the move.

"We are negatively surprised by this decision, especially as Binck positioned itself as a capital-return story last year," ING's Albert Ploegh in a note, though it continues to rate the bank as a "hold".

BinckBank shares were down 7.2 percent at 7.19 euros by 1005GMT.

The company, which appointed Germyns as acting executive chairman after Koen Beentjes stepped down on Jan. 1, reported fourth-quarter adjusted net profit of 12.7 million euros. That compared with 22.7 million euros a year earlier and was in line with analysts' expectations. ($1 = 0.8812 euros)

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by David Goodman

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