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UPDATE 2-Amundi CEO hands over to deputy at Europe's biggest fund manager

(Adds shares, analyst comment)

PARIS, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Amundi shares rose on Wednesday after Europe’s largest fund manager said Chief Executive Yves Perrier would be succeeded by his deputy Valérie Baudson, a longstanding insider.

News of the handover came as Amundi posted its highest quarterly net income since it was created in 2010, and after lingering doubts about the succession plan had weighed on the share price, analysts said.

“The announcement of a strong, internal candidate as CEO, with a background in some of the most important parts of the Amundi franchise, is a positive,” analysts at Credit Suisse said.

Amundi was up 3.5% on the stock market at 0919 GMT, after the firm also announced it would resume dividend payments.

Perrier has led the French firm since it was formed through a 2010 tie-up between the asset management arms of banking groups Credit Agricole and Societe Generale.

He will become chairman at the company’s next annual general meeting on May 10, replacing Xavier Musca, while Baudson, who runs Amundi’s fully-owned affiliate CPR Asset Management, will take the CEO job.

“It is the choice of competence, continuity and shared values,” Perrier said.

Baudson was also in charge of Amundi’s exchange traded funds business, which recorded strong inflows in 2020.

SocGen has since sold out of Amundi but has a partnership with the firm, while Credit Agricole is the controlling shareholder.

The group, which expanded last year by acquiring the asset management business of Spain’s Sabadell, aims to grow in other areas too, including in China where it has set up a new subsidiary.

It also created a dedicated technology business to commercialise its IT platforms used by third parties. This would generate 150 million euros in revenues between 2021 and 2025, up from 25 million in 2020, it said.

Amundi paid no dividend on 2019 earnings after the European Central Bank told euro zone financial institutions in March 2020 to skip dividend payments and use profits to support an economy hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday it proposed a 2020 payout of 2.90 euros per share.

Fourth-quarter 2020 net income came in at 288 million euros, up 5.1 % on the year earlier period, thanks to net revenue growth, cost control and higher contributions from joint ventures.

Full-year net income was down 4.7% at 962 million euros but would have been stable against 2019’s 1.009 billion euros when excluding the impact of the market downturn. It said that net income had nearly doubled since its 2015 initial public offering.

Amundi said overall inflows were 14.4 billion euros in the fourth quarter and assets under management rose to 1.7 billion by the end of 2020, up 4.4% for the quarter. (Reporting by GV De Clercq, Sarah White and Patrick Vignal Editing by David Goodman, Kirsten Donovan)

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