SWITZERLAND – Swiss bank UBS has seen pre-tax profits at its asset management arm rise 29%.

UBS said that profits at Global Asset Management were 44 million Swiss francs (29.1 million euros) in the first quarter, a rise of 29% on the fourth quarter of 2002. “This was the result of lower operating expenses, down mainly because the fourth quarter 2002 result included severance costs and expenses for unoccupied premises.

GAM’s institutional business saw net new money of 3.9 billion francs in first quarter 2003 – up from 2.4 billion francs in 2002’s fourth quarter.

GAM is the sixth largest manager of European pension fund assets with around 76 billion dollars of such assets under management.

“Equity mandates experienced strong inflows globally,” it added. Total invested assets at the division were 519 billion francs as at March 31 2003 down from 533 billion francs at the end of last year.

Overall, UBS’s net income fell 11% to 1.21 billion francs compared to the 2002 quarter.

"While some further degree of volatility cannot be excluded, we do feel that the downward pressure on our industry from the business and market environment could be beginning to ease and that the worst earnings declines may be behind us," said chief executive Peter Wuffli said.

"Our businesses are proving highly competitive and we remain convinced that our strategy is the right one."