* FY pretax profit up 15 pct to 15.1 mln stg
* Final dividend up 5 pct to 3.68P per share
* Says well positioned to meet challenges ahead
* Net fees: Europe up 29 pct, Asia Pacific up 23 pct, UK up 3 pct (Adds details)
LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - British recruitment firm Robert Walters posted a 15 percent rise in 2011 profit as net fees grew across turbulent markets, and said it was well placed for the challenges ahead.
The white-collar recruiter, which places people in accountancy, banking, IT and marketing jobs, said on Thursday pretax profit for the year was 15.1 million pounds ($24.12 million), up from 13.1 million in 2010, as net fees grew across its markets in Europe, Asia Pacific and Britain.
That was in line with consensus provided by five analysts polled by Reuters.
“I am particularly pleased with the group’s strong performance in a year which has seen more than its fair share of economic turbulence,” Chief Executive Robert Walters said.
The recruitment sector has seen a steady slide in growth in the past year as global economic uncertainty and tough austerity measures have weighed on the confidence of clients to hire and candidates to move jobs.
The firm reiterated comments made last month that while much of Europe and beyond is hampered by budget cuts and stagnant economies it would chase markets offering strong growth opportunities like Asia Pacific and Germany. Rivals Michael Page and Hays have both shared similar sentiments this year.
Robert Walters said Asia Pacific, which now accounts for over half of net fees, saw 23 percent growth underpinned by strong markets in Australia and China, while in Europe France and Germany performed well against a backdrop of euro zone uncertainty to help deliver 29 percent growth.
In the UK, fees were up 3 percent as hiring activity in the financial services sector faced job cuts and low hiring rates.
The group, which makes 74 percent of its income overseas and operates in 23 countries, upped its full-year dividend 5 percent to 3.68 pence. Shares in the firm closed at 229.25 pence on Wednesday, valuing the business at around 170 million pounds. ($1 = 0.6260 British pounds) (Reporting by Neil Maidment; editing by James Davey)