Lazard fourth-quarter profit more than doubles as M&A activity surges

Feb 5 (Reuters) - Investment bank Lazard Ltd reported a nearly 147% surge in fourth-quarter profit on Friday, powered by growth in its financial advisory business as corporate dealmaking activity ended the year on a high.

The bank, whose business is split between asset management and financial advisory, reported an adjusted net income of $192 million, or $1.66 per share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, from $105 million, or 91 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average were expecting the profit to be 97 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. It was not immediately clear if estimates were comparable.

Global M&A activity, one of Lazard’s main revenue drivers, roared back to life in the second half of 2020, even though overall dealmaking activity fell to a three-year low as companies grappled with the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lazard’s net revenue for the reported quarter surged 22% to $878 million and its operating revenue rose to a record quarterly high of $849 million.

Operating revenue from the financial advisory business grew 29% to a record quarterly high of $509 million, while revenue from the asset management arm rose 12% compared with the year-ago period. (Reporting by Niket Nishant and Sohini Podder in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)