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MLIM’s global revenues fall 20%

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US - Merrill Lynch Investment Managers says its worldwide revenues declined by a net 20% in 2002 – although the unit’s top executive says it is poised for profitable growth.

Total net revenues at MLIM declined to 1.55 billion dollars in 2002, from 1.93 billion dollars in 2001. Pre-tax earnings rose to 321 million dollars, from 19 million dollars. The 2001 earnings were hit by a 283 million dollar restructuring charge. The company did not break down its earnings by region.

“With sustained improvements in investment performance, deeper penetration across sales channels and a strong product offering, MLIM is poised for profitable growth in the years ahead,” MLIM president and chief investment officer Bob Doll said in Merrill Lynch’s 2002 annual report.

MLIM is the fifth largest manager of European pension fund assets.

Asset management fees declined 17% to 1.4 billion dollars from 1.6 billion dollars. Institutional assets under management declined to 235 billion dollars from 266 billion dollars. MLIM has a total of 462 billion dollars under management, a 13% decline from 2001.

It shed 300 employees during the year, taking its total to 2,800 worldwide, from 3,100 in 2001. At the end of 2000, MLIM employed 4,000.

Fifty-one percent of its assets under management belonged to institutions, 41% were retail and eight percent was private investors’. Geographically, Europe accounted for 23% of assets, the Americas 69% and other regions eight percent.

Doll added: “We are strengthening our business plans for third-parties and institutions in the United States and Europe; both avenues have begun to generate new opportunities.”

Doll also says that MLIM expects its enhanced alternative investment and private account products “to yield significant growth”.

Overall, parent company Merrill Lynch & Co. reported first-quarter net income of 685 million dollars, up from 647 million dollars a year earlier. Net revenue slipped to 4.9 billion dollars from 5.1 billion dollars

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