GLOBAL – Merrill Lynch Investment Managers’ institutional assets under management have fallen to 235 billion dollars (190 billion euros) from 239 billion dollars a year ago.

According to Merrill’s second-quarter earnings release, MLIM’s institutional AUM as at the end of the period have also slipped from the 259 billion dollars posted at the end of the first quarter.

Total AUM fell to 488 billion dollars – from 513 billion dollars in the previous quarter. “The sequential decline was due principally to net outflows from US institutional cash products as short-term interest rates rose, which more than offset net inflows to equity products,” the firm said.

“MLIM continued its strong earnings performance, posting its fifth consecutive year-over-year improvement in quarterly earnings, and its second strongest quarter in the past two years,” Merrill added.

Last month Merrill responded to reports that it was planning to sell the unit with a statement that it sees asset management is an important business.

Today it said that MLIM's second quarter pre-tax earnings rose 77% to 110 million dollars. Net revenues were up 18% at 389 million dollars.

Overall, Merrill Lynch reported second quarter net earnings of 1.1 billion dollars, up 10% from 977 million dollars a year ago.

"We navigated well through a progressively more challenging business environment during the second quarter," said Stan O'Neal, chairman and chief executive.

"We are confident we can achieve further growth and are continuing to invest in key opportunities across our businesses.

“While the market environment has become more challenging near-term, our franchise is well-positioned to deliver superior service to our clients and strong financial performance in various operating environments."