GLOBAL – The Bank of New York has dropped a hint about its future plans, saying it will continue to make “strategic investments”.

Chairman and chief executive Thomas Renyi in the bank’s latest earnings statement noted the “uneven” improvement in the capital markets, the investigation of mutual fund companies and the competitive environment.

"Notwithstanding these conditions we will continue to make strategic investments to strengthen our competitive position and enhance client service, while remaining focused on continued expense discipline and major initiatives to improve productivity."

Ivan Royle, the bank’s European director of communications, was not able to elaborate, saying the group was always on the lookout for the right investments.

The group recorded net income for the fourth quarter of 307 million dollars, up from 100 million dollars a year ago.

Securities servicing fees reached a record 684 million dollars in the fourth quarter, up four percent on the previous quarter – led by global custody, fund servicing, depositary receipts, and the acquisition of Pershing.

Private client services and asset management grew by six million dollars, or six percent, due to “higher equity price levels and continued strength in Ivy Asset Management, a fund of funds hedge fund manager”.

Renyi said: "I am pleased that we recorded our third consecutive quarter of improved operating earnings in spite of a mixed market environment.

“Our strategic accomplishments in 2003 included gaining market share in our key businesses, significantly enhancing our credit risk profile, and successfully integrating Pershing.

For the year, securities servicing fees were 2.4 billion dollars, up from 2002’s 1.9 billion dollars.

As of December 31, it had 8.3 trillion dollars under custody, compared to 6.8 trillion dollars a year earlier.