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UPDATE 2-Investec profit warning increases heat from investors

* Investors focus on Investec structure

* Investec warns profit could fall by 63%

* Plans to cut 210 jobs in UK

* Says interim dividend unlikely (Recasts, adds investor comment, share reaction)

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Investec warned on Friday that its profit could fall up to 63%, largely due to the coronavirus crisis, knocking its shares as some investors questioned the South African firm’s structure.

Severe economic contractions, volatile financial markets, lower interest rates and a depreciation in the rand had combined with some “effective tax rate normalisation” to hit its performance, Investec said in a statement.

Investec said it expects its adjusted earnings per share, which reflect profits on ordinary operations, to be between 8.3 pence ($0.1076) and 10.5 pence in the six months to September 30, compared to 28.9 pence a year earlier.

That represents an up to 63% decline in profit from continuing operations, or up to 71% when the impact of the demerger of asset management business Ninety One is not excluded. The warning prompting Investec shares to fall by more than 4.5% and the stock was down 3.38% by 0845 GMT.

Investors raised concerns on a call with Investec management about how its structure made it hard for shareholders to calculate the value of the company.

Investec spun off Ninety One as planned in March, but opted to suspend a planned sale of a 10% stake due to market volatility, meaning it retained a 25% stake overall.

Shane Watkins, chief investment officer of specialist asset manager All Weather, said on the call that while Investec was on the right path operationally, its “sub-optimal” structure was a problem.

“The fact is the market doesn’t like it... and it doesn’t reflect your value properly,” he said, adding unbundling the Ninety One stake would also unlock value.

Investec Chief Executive Fani Titi said the group was working on significantly improving its disclosures.

South Africa has seen a string of unbundlings in recent years as firms have looked to dismantle complex shareholding structures, with investors arguing these trap value. ($1 = 0.7712 pounds) (Reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by Jason Neely and Alexander Smith)

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