GLOBAL – Merrill Lynch Investment Managers’ pre-tax earnings in the third quarter were 77 million dollars, a 15% rise on the same period in 2002.

Parent Merrill Lynch said net revenues at the asset management division fell two percent to 352 million dollars – although they rose by seven percent on the second quarter of this year.

Merrill said the figures represented MLIM’s “first sequential quarter increase in net revenues in over two years”.

“Leveraging strong investment performance to grow distribution is central to MLIM's operating philosophy,” it added.

MLIM’s assets under management rose five percent, or 21 billion dollars, to 473 billion dollars, due to “market appreciation and positive currency movements”.

It said that more than 70% of its global assets under management were ahead of their benchmark over a one, three and five year time frame.

In the year-to-date period, MLIM’s pre-tax earnings fell 30% to 189 million dollars on net revenues that were down 16% at one billion dollars.

Overall, the firm’s third-quarter net income rose 50% to 1.04 billion dollars from 693 million dollars. Net revenues rose 16% 5.1 billion dollars.