November 17, 2016 / 10:46 AM / 3 years ago

Investec looks to build Irish wealth unit via acquisitions

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Investec is looking to build its Irish wealth management business via acquisitions, its chief executive said on Thursday, as the Anglo-South African financial services group reported higher first-half profit.

Investec, which is listed in both Johannesburg and London, has been offloading assets including its mortgage lending division in Britain to focus on asset management, investment banking and wealth management.

Stephen Koseff, a near four-dacade company veteran who took over as chief executive in 1997, said the wealth management business in the Ireland needed to be scaled up.

“In Ireland, we have a business that is well set but just needs scale, so that’s an area where we could look to consolidate and make some acquisitions to the extent that they are available,” Koseff told analysts and reporters at Investec’s results presentation.

Investec reported a 20 percent rise in diluted headline earnings per share to 24 cents, putting its shares on course in both London and Johannesburg for their biggest one-day gain in nearly five months.

The stock was up 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent in London and Johannesburg respectively, outpacing both the pan-European STOXX 600 and the JSE Top-40 index.

“The operational performance was quite strong and assets under management also doing a little bit better than we thought,” one Johannesburg-based analyst said.

The wealth business, which reported a 14 percent rise in operating profit, entered Hong Kong earlier this year.

The asset management business grew operating profit by 16.6 percent, while funds under its custody grew to 89.8 billion pounds from 75.7 billion pounds in March, Investec said.

Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Mark Potter

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