GAM issues fourth profit warning in two years

Lauren Mason
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GAM CEO Peter Sanderson
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GAM CEO Peter Sanderson

Swiss asset management firm GAM expects a net loss of CHF400m (£339m) for H1 2020 as the firm has been forced to book a CHF410m (£348m) non-cash impairment, which was the result of goodwill payments related to its acquisitions of UBS in 1999 and Julius Baer 2005.

GAM, which reviewed these payments on Friday (19 June), said it took this decision as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. Excluding the writedown, the firm would have expected a pre-tax loss of CHF3m (£2.5m) during the first half of this year compared to a CHF2.1 (£1.8m) profit during H1 2019.

In a statement, CEO Peter Sanderson (pictured) said: "We continue to see stabilisation with materially lower net asset outflows after the disruption in March caused by Covid, as well as high levels of client engagement and improvements in the investment performance of our funds.

We are making good progress in implementing our strategic plan."

"We are making good progress in implementing our strategic plan."

At the beginning of the year GAM issued a profit warning for 2019, stating that its annual results would be materially lower than the previous year and that staff were likely to receive lower bonuses.

Similarly, at the end of 2018, the firm issued a profit warning having suffered significant outflows from its investment management division - notably its fixed income funds - leading to underlying pre-tax profits of CHF125m (£106.1m) for the financial year, compared to CHF172.5m (£146.4m) in the previous year.

In July 2018, the firm's star fixed income manager Tim Haywood - who headed up its CHF11.5bn (£9.8bn) Absolute Return Bond fund - was fired for "gross misconduct", forcing the fund into liquidation as investors scrambled to take profits.

CEO Sanderson was brought into the company from BlackRock in July last year, who has since instigated cost-cutting measures including reducing staff numbers in order to improve the company's balance sheet.

Last December, however, GAM was forced to pay a CHF500,000 (£424,400) penalty to the Swiss stock exchange and admit a CHF35m (£29.7m) liability in its full-year accounts, following accounting misstatements regarding its acquisition of Cantab Capital back in 2017.