France's Natixis, Amundi Buck Industry Trend With Asset Inflows

(Bloomberg) -- While other European fund managers struggle to attract new money, France’s Natixis SA and Amundi SA are showing they know how to grow assets under management.

Natixis added about 10 billion euros ($11.6 billion) of net assets in the second quarter, with Europe accounting for most of that, and about 3 billion euros coming from North America through Harris Associates. Amundi, majority-owned by Credit Agricole SA, rebounded from outflows a year earlier to post about 2.6 billion euros of net inflows in the second quarter.

The two are bucking negative fund flows in Europe, where asset owners pulled almost 23 billion euros from managers in the two months through June, according to Morningstar Inc. estimates. The industry, already battling to compete with cheaper passive providers, is also facing headwinds from new European rules that may cause clients to pull money from some products.

Amundi’s results illustrate the importance of having these widespread distribution networks across countries,” said Ali Masarwah, a research director at Morningstar. “It’s a pretty bright picture.”

The shares rose as much as 9.3 percent, the most since Amundi started trading in 2015, before closing up 5.4 percent at 61.62 euros in Paris. Even after the gain, the stock is down 13 percent this year. Natixis reported its inflows after the close of regular trading, with the shares down slightly.

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Despite the positive result, Amundi Chief Executive Officer Yves Perrier sounded a note of caution.

“Last year, we had the wind behind us but this year it will be, perhaps, against us,” Perrier told journalists on a call. “The market environment was much more difficult in the second quarter, but we made good progress.” The company may consider other acquisitions following the purchase of Pioneer Investments last year, though deals are not a priority, he said.

The firm is targeting at least 50 billion euros of net new money annually through 2020 and attracted 42.4 billion euros in the first half, helped by its purchase of Pioneer. The manager oversaw 1.47 trillion euros at the end of June, compared with 1.45 trillion euros at the end of March, after investments lost money.

Amundi has “significant growth potential,” Perrier said in a statement on Thursday. “In the first half of 2018, Amundi came in ahead of its strategic road map for both business activity and profitability.”

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