New Star ascends into the black

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New Star Asset Management Group, the company founded less than four years ago by the colourful John Duffield, burst into the black last year.

Figures released today by the unquoted company show that funds under management tripled to £5.9bn in 2003, turnover rose from £20.5m to £45.9m, and a £9.2m operating loss was turned into a £10.6m profit before interest, exceptional items and amortisation.

During the year New Star bought funds from Aberdeen Asset Management, Exeter Investment Group and Edinburgh Fund Managers, and was appointed to handle £1.6bn for Family Assurance. Institutional funds rose by 30 per cent during 2003 and were £2.7bn by 31 March this year. Total funds under management had expanded to £8.2m by then, representing the investments of more than 650,000 individuals.

Staff numbers increased from 159 to 202 during the year, and staff costs rose by a fifth before performance fees. Tax losses brought forward cut the 2003 tax bill.

Mr Duffield, 64, the group's founder and main shareholder, said: "In our third year we went well beyond critical mass through our continued organic growth, and through acquisitions, and we began to earn operating profits. Having moved into profitability in 2003, we are likely to make significant profits in the current year, subject, as always, to the general level of stock markets and unforeseen events."

The group is planning to float on the stock market by the end of this year if share prices remain at current levels.

New Star was formed after Mr Duffield sold his former business, Jupiter Asset Management, to the German Commerzbank. He stayed on but fell out with his new masters, calling them Nazis and receiving £5m compensation for wrongful dismissal. He intended to float New Star in 2002 but was stalled by the bear market.