September 6, 2019 / 9:01 AM / a month ago

U.S.-China trade spat 'material' for fund manager Ashmore: CFO

LONDON (Reuters) - The impact of U.S.-China trade conflict on China and the global economy was a major concern for Ashmore (ASHM.L), its chief financial officer said on Friday, as the emerging market fund manager posted a 10% rise in full-year core profit.

China and the United States on Thursday agreed to hold high-level talks in early October in Washington, cheering investors hoping for a thaw in relations even as new U.S. tariffs on Chinese consumer goods chip away at global growth.

Ashmore invests in emerging markets across a range of equity, debt, multi-asset and alternative funds for institutional and retail clients.

“We are watching it closely, it is material to us, we think the impact is broader than just on China,” Tom Shippey told Reuters by telephone.

The fund manager has exposure to China but Shippey said the world’s second-largest economy “is relatively well placed to cope - it has high savings ratios, good domestic GDP growth and an ability to withstand some of the U.S. action.”

Ashmore also has exposure to Argentina across its funds, mainly in fixed income assets, but Shippey said the political situation could “create opportunities for active managers”.

Argentina’s likely next president, opposition front-runner Alberto Fernandez, laid out his populist credentials during a visit to Madrid on Thursday, saying Argentine interests would trump those of creditors and energy investors.

“Prices tend to overreact,” Shippey said, pointing to Argentine bonds yielding close to 50%. The fund manager could add to its positions if it thought default was unlikely, he added.

Ashmore, which has a business in Saudi Arabia, was also watching Saudi Aramco’s plans for an initial public offering, he said, but Ashmore’s interest in the IPO would depend on price.

Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producing company, is preparing an IPO of up to a 5% stake by 2020-2021.

Ashmore recorded adjusted earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 201.8 million pounds ($248.9 million) for the year ending June 2019, helped by net inflows and strong markets.

Assets under management were previously reported at $91.8 billion at the end of June, up 24% from a year earlier.

It recorded net inflows of $10.7 billion over the one-year period and positive investment performance of $6.9 billion.

Ashmore’s shares were up 1.6% at 460 pence per share at 0807 GMT. Analysts at Peel Hunt upgraded the stock to buy from add, highlighting good results and recent share price weakness.

Ashmore said it would pay a final dividend of 12.10 pence per share.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn, Editing by Abhinav Ramnarayan and David Evans

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