Australia's AMP reports $12.2 billion virus-driven hit to AUM at investment arms

FILE PHOTO: The logo of AMP Ltd, Australia's biggest retail wealth manager, adorns their head office located in central Sydney, Australia, May 5, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

(Reuters) - Australia's AMP Ltd AMP.AX reported on Thursday a A$19.4 billion ($12.22 billion) decline in assets under management across its wealth management business in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on markets.

In its Australian wealth business, AMP saw assets under management fall to A$116.3 billion as at March 31, from A$134.5 billion in the final quarter of 2019 that it squarely attributed to coronavirus-driven uncertainty.

The exodus included net cash outflow of A$829 million from pension funds.

Over in New Zealand, assets under management fell 9.8% to A$11.1 billion as of the end of the quarter. AMP has been looking at buyers for its wealth management business in the country.

“Markets in Q1 were extremely volatile particularly in March, with significant falls in equities, fixed income and key commodities impacting our assets under management,” Chief Executive Officer Francesco De Ferrari said in a statement.

“We have seen some recovery since the quarter-end, but expect market volatility to continue and the economic impact of the pandemic to emerge over the remainder of the year,” he added.

Global markets have been in turmoil ever since the outbreak moved beyond China and forced countries to take drastic measures and impose lockdowns to control the spread, hitting global demand and corporate revenue hard.

The volatility comes at a time where the Sydney-based firm has been battling to regain investor confidence following revelations of widespread misconduct at the company. A public inquiry found it had charged life insurance premiums to dead customers and attempted to mislead regulators.

Meanwhile, AMP Capital also saw its total assets under management fall A$10.7 billion from the end of 2019 to A$192.4 billion at the end of March.

Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong