GLOBAL - Barclays Global Investors gained £48bn (E70.4bn) in net new assets in 2005.

"Total assets under management increased 24% (£172bn) to £881bn (2004: £709bn)," said parent Barclays Plc. "The growth included £48bn of net new assets, £53bn attributable to favorable exchange rate movements and £71bn as a result of market movements."

BGI's pre-tax profit rose 61% to £542m from £336m in 2004.

It said: "Higher margin assets under management, strong investment performance and higher market levels contributed to the significant income growth, which was strong across all areas, particularly in the active and iShares businesses."

Assets under management related to the iShares exchange traded funds arm were up 66% at £113bn.

BGI's total headcount rose by 400 to 2,300 at the end of 2005 - "in all regions, across product groups and the support functions, reflecting the investments made to support strategic initiatives".

Group chief executive John Varley said of BGI: "As in the case of Barclays Capital, we are unconstrained by market share and, in particular, we are seeing brisk growth in the areas of fixed income, cash management and exchange traded funds."

Varley said in an interview with Cantos that BGI's 2005 profits are approximately double the purchase price for the firm 10 years ago.

He added: "I don't feel concerned about its ability to grow. If I look at its track record over the course of the last 10 years, I think, it brings scientific risk management, a very distinctive approach to investment management and a global reach."