February 13, 2018 / 7:47 AM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-Swiss asset manager Vontobel posts 12 pct underlying profit jump

(Adds CEO comment, details)

ZURICH, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Swiss private bank and asset manager Vontobel on Tuesday posted a 12 percent rise in adjusted full-year net profit and 5.9 billion Swiss francs ($6.3 billion) in fresh client money.

Zurich-based Vontobel said net profit excluding acquisition costs and a one-off tax hit rose to 217.9 million francs.

It said it would propose an increased dividend of 2.10 francs per share. For 2016 the bank paid an ordinary dividend of 1.90 francs and a special dividend of 0.10 francs.

In August Vontobel outlined higher asset-gathering and profitability goals as part of new targets for 2020, adding that it had enough capital to spend up to 500 million francs on acquisitions.

Chief Executive Zeno Staub on Tuesday reiterated that appetite for acquisitions on a call with journalists.

The group said it was seeking to strengthen profitability further in 2018 but that market conditions are expected to remain challenging with margins still under pressure.

"Our robust 2017 result once again highlights our successful business model as a globally active Swiss financial expert with a focus on wealth management, asset management and financial products," Staub said in a statement, adding that the market environment was becoming more competitive.

"In 2018 we will continue to invest in our relationship with existing and new clients, thus investing in growth."

The asset manager said it expects a 2-3 percent tax rate reduction from recent U.S. tax reforms.

On an unadjusted basis, Vontobel said net shareholders' profit for 2017 fell to 202.4 million francs from 259.8 million francs in 2016, but ahead of an average estimate for 198 million francs in a Reuters poll of five analysts.

The previous year's profit was boosted by the sale of its stake in Helvetia Holding AG.

Shares were seen opening 1.6 percent higher according to pre-market indications provided by bank Julius Baer.‍​ ($1 = 0.9365 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by David Goodman)

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