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Facing big loss, Swiss asset manager GAM cuts staff, dividend 

Key Points
  • Assets under management continued to fall, dropping to 139.1 billion francs as of end-November from 146.1 billion at the end of September, mainly driven by net outflows of 4.2 billion in Investment Management, it said in a statement.
  • It forecast its underlying profit before tax for 2018 would fall to around 125 million francs from 172.5 million in 2017.
A tramway car captured with blurred motion rushes through the Paradeplatz (Parade square) in the heart of Switzerland banking industry in Zurich at night.
@ Didier Marti | Moment | Getty Images

Swiss asset manager GAM Holding AG will cut staff by a tenth and omit a 2018 dividend, it said on Thursday, forecasting a 2018 net loss of around 925 million Swiss francs ($931 million) as it shakes up its embattled business.

Assets under management continued to fall, dropping to 139.1 billion francs as of end-November from 146.1 billion at the end of September, mainly driven by net outflows of 4.2 billion in Investment Management, it said in a statement.

GAM, with currently more than 900 employees, said its expected 2018 net loss under IFRS accounting standards reflected a goodwill impairment charge of around 885 million francs, an impairment charge of around 62 million francs in the second half related to the British hedge fund Cantab it bought in 2016, and a one-off charge of around 30 million linked to a revamp of its absolute return/unconstrained fixed income (ABRF) strategy.

It forecast its underlying profit before tax for 2018 would fall to around 125 million francs from 172.5 million in 2017.

"Given the significantly lower levels of (assets under management) and the phasing of the cost reduction programme, GAM expects its 2019 financial results to be materially below those of 2018," it added, referring to underlying figures.

GAM had a 2017 IFRS net profit of 123.2 million francs.

GAM intends to cut costs by at least 40 million francs by the end of next year, and said it could intensify efficiency measures over the period of restructuring that would show full benefits in 2020 results.

The group revised its dividend policy for 2019 and beyond to target a minimum payout of half of underlying net profits.

GAM assets had suffered a 17.7 billion franc hit in the third quarter due to slumping markets. The suspension of absolute return bond fund (ARBF) director Tim Haywood during a misconduct investigation may also have prompted some investors to withdraw funds.

Amid its missteps, GAM under new Chief Executive David Jacob has become a potential prey, with media reporting it rebuffed an offer from Schroders SDR.L for its hedge fund unit.

On a call with reporters, Jacobs reiterated that GAM's board was open to all options but management was focused on running the business as is.