UK - Barclays Global Investors, the largest manager of European pension fund assets, saw its first-half operating profit rise 52% and assets under management rise 18%.

Parent Barclays said operating profit at the asset management firm rose to 91 million pounds (129 million euros) compared to 60 million pounds a year ago. Income was up eight percent at 311 million pounds.

Total assets under management were up 18% to 543 billion pounds from 462 billion pounds as at the end of 2002. It now has 2,400 institutional clients, up from 2,100 a year ago. Staff numbers have fallen to 2,000 from 2,100.

It added that there was a 27% global growth in assets for iShares exchange traded funds to 28 pounds from 22 billion pounds at end-2002.

Overall, BGI has seen net new assets of 34 billion pounds in the first half of this year. Actively managed assets now generate more than 60% of the firm’s management fees and over 50% of total income. BGI manages around 129 billion euros in European pension fund assets.

Overall, Barclays reported a pre-tax profit of 1.96 billion pounds, up 12% from 1.76 billion a year ago. “We have seen good revenue growth, tight cost discipline and prudent risk management,” said chief executive Matthew Barrett.