UK – Financial services firm Investec’s asset management profits rose slightly in the first half – coinciding with news that it has won a 20 million pound (31.4 million euro) balanced mandate in the UK.

Investec Asset Management said in a news release that it has won a 20 million pound balanced mandate from the Community Foundation of Newcastle, a charity body in the north east of England.

It said: “Investec Asset Management has been mandated to manage a low-risk balanced strategy, which outperforms the WM Unconstrained Charities 9ex-property) Index.”

The Community Foundation’s chairman, Richard Hollinshead, says: “Investec came with glowing references and we were very impressed by the knowledge and resources of their team.”

Separately, Investec reported its first-half earnings today, which showed a fall in profits, though its asset management earnings held up.

The company, which is jointly listed in the UK and South Africa, identified “increasing corporate governance concerns” and weak markets for the fall in its pre-tax profits to 15.6 million pounds from 39.9 million pounds in the six months to September 30.

Operating income fell 12.2% to 256.4 million pounds, hit by lower equity values and “significant declines” in fees.

It saw its asset management profits rise to 29.1 million pounds from 25.8 million pounds. It has 456.3 million euros in European pension assets under management.

“The protracted economic slowdown and increasing corporate governance concerns presented a deeply challenging environment for capital markets,” the bank said in its first-half earnings statement.

The fall in profits was due to lower equity values and the devaluation of the South African rand, which declined 36% in the period.

Total assets under administration fell 8.2% to 41.5 billion from 45.2 billion pounds. Its UK asset management arm saw growth of 19% in its assets, with net inflows of 81 million pounds.

The company was cautious about its prospects in the coming year. “The operational health of the group’s activities are sound but external market and economic conditions remain volatile and could have an impact on the performance of the group for the 2003 financial year,” it said.