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Ashmore profit leaps on asset inflows and investment performance

LONDON (Reuters) - Emerging markets-focused money manager Ashmore Group's <ASHM.L> assets under management rose 7% in the six months to Dec. 31, helping it to better than expected profit and lifting its shares by more than 2% on Thursday.

Total assets at the end of 2019 were $98.4 billion (£75.8 billion), Ashmore said in a statement, buoyed by net inflows of $5.7 billion since June and investment profit of $900 million.

Adjusted net revenue jumped by 20% to 176.8 million pounds, driven by an 18% rise in net management fees, outstripping consensus forecasts of 172 million pounds.

Pretax profit was up 42% year on year at 132.4 million pounds, beating a company supplied consensus forecast of 120.7 million pounds.

"Ashmore's specialist focus on the diverse emergingmarkets, the strong client flow momentum in the first half of the financial year and ongoing client activity levels mean Ashmore is well-positioned to continue to grow," said Chief Executive Mark Coombs.

Ashmore has exposure in China but finance chief Tom Shippey told Reuters that markets tend to overreact to events such as the recent coronavirus outbreak.

"Our investment committees are watching very closely what's happening in markets and what the reaction to the virus outbreak is from a pricing point of view, but also the impact tends to be relatively short-lived.

"If you look back at SARS, obviously economic growth does come off a bit in the near term, but our experience is it does recover pretty quickly."

Shippey said that a Shanghai-based mutual fund business in which it has a financial stake has taken an extra week's holiday and Ashmore has restricted staff from making anything but essential travel to mainland China.

Ashmore shares were up 2.2% at 0830 GMT, one of the strongest performers on the FTSE mid-cap index <.FTMC>.

(Reporting by Maiya Keidan and Carolyn Cohn; Editing by David Goodman)