July 22, 2019 / 5:55 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Julius Baer H1 adjusted net profit slumps to 391 mln Sfr

* Adj. net profit 391 mln Sfr

* Baer says recovery in global stock markets helped since end-2018

* 100 mln Sfr cost cutting programme on track, says bank (Adds detail from statement, background)

ZURICH, July 22 (Reuters) - Swiss private bank Julius Baer posted a 19% decline in adjusted net profit in the first six months of 2019 as tepid trading continued from its wealthy clients, a dip it nonetheless hailed as a pick-up from challenging conditions late last year.

Switzerland's third-largest listed bank has recently contended with negative interest rates, choppy markets, and risk-averse clients, as well as lacklustre growth from its Italian subsidiary Kairos, which saw outflows in the first six months related to a decline in fund performance last year.

Julius Baer's adjusted net profit was at 391 million Swiss francs ($397.52 million) in the first half of 2019 - a 19% drop on the year but an 18% increase compared with the second half of 2018.

"Profitability has markedly improved compared to the second half of 2018, as we saw client activity and asset valuations recover substantially," outgoing chief executive Bernhard Hodler said.

"The cost-reduction programme we initiated earlier this year is on track, and we will see its effects materialise in the coming months and throughout 2020, as targeted," he added.

Hodler is due to be replaced by the bank's current head of intermediaries and global custody, Philipp Rickenbacher, in September.

While Baer's overall inflows have picked up since late 2018, margins have been under pressure.

In February the bank scaled back growth targets and announced large-scale cost cuts after a tough end to 2018 caused it to miss its goals.

It said on Monday the programme, which aims to save around 100 million Swiss francs by cutting its workforce by around 2% and moving out of less attractive markets, was on track.

It is aiming to hit an adjusted cost-income ratio below 68% by 2020, an improvement on the 71.0% posted through June.

It brought in 6.2 billion Swiss francs in net new money, a 3.2% growth rate that was below its 4-6% target. ($1 = 0.9836 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi Editing by Michelle Martin)

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