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Liontrust cuts dividends as profits fall

Liontrust Asset Management has cut dividend payments for the year ending March 2010 to 2.5p a share.

The move comes after Liontrust announced that it will not offer a second interim dividend for this year. Liontrust paid 7.5p in the previous year ending March 2009.

Liotnrust has also revealed that adjusted profit before tax fell from £14.3m in 2009 to £796,000 this year, while assets under management shrank from £1.9 billion to £1.1 billion. Basic earnings per share fell from 283p to 3.6p.

Liontrust has had a difficult time following the departure of its star managers Jeremy Lang and William Pattisson.

James Inglis-Jones and Gary West, who took over the group’s flagship Liontrust first income fund in March 2009, have managed to turn performance around. However, the group continued to suffer outflows and announced a raft of cost-cutting measures designed to save £2.5m per year, starting from the next financial year.

In May, Nigel Legge, Liontrust’s group’s co-founder and chief executive, resigned from his role as chief executive. John Ions, then head of retail, joined the board as chief executive. Adrian Collins, non-executive chairman, became executive chairman.

Today’s statement remains upbeat, saying that Liontrust has entered “a new era” having gone through “a great deal of change” over the past 18 months. The group’s key strengths, Ions says, remain its fund management capability. Since Ions joined three months ago, he has been focusing on the distribution side of the business.

Ions is reviewing the group’s activities and claims to have identified further efficiencies that will lead to cost savings and a more focused business, which remain the group’s focus.

Liontrust is implementing sales and marketing strategies to raise the group’s profile, which includes a rebranding exercise, and its fund management capability.

Ion says he is confident the things have turned around and the changes proposed will make Liontrust more successful. In February, Liontrust expanded its product range with the launch of the Luxembourg-domiciled Liontrust Credit Absolute Return fund. Chris Edmeades took over the role as chief risk officer and Graham Hooper has joined as a non-executive director.


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