08 November 2007
Our strategy to focus on investment management was achieved through the IPO of MF Global in July, and the process of returning the cash proceeds to our shareholders will be complete by the end of the year. We have continued to see growth in our investment management business, expanding our distribution franchise and launching new and innovative products for our investors. Demand for our investment products was strong, generating sales of $8 billion in the first half. Despite the turmoil in financial markets during the summer, our investors saw nearly $3 billion of positive performance across the period, generating performance fee income up 28%. Management fees and total earnings per share were both up 17%.
Our confidence in the financial position, earnings momentum and cash generation of the Group is demonstrated by the adoption of a revised distribution policy. With the increased diversity and predictability of our sources of performance fee income, it is appropriate to set our dividend on the combined management and performance earnings for the period, and we will target dividend cover of 1.8x combined earnings within two years. The interim dividend has been increased to a level to move rapidly towards that target. In addition, our earnings momentum continues to create significant excess capital and we will address those surpluses through our share repurchase programme.
The second half of the year has started strongly. Continued good product performance has generated significant performance fee income for October and the outlook for sales remains good. Assets under management are currently estimated to be over $70 billion and we are well placed for continued asset growth.