Vontobel to Increase Dividend by 19% After Earnings Gain

Vontobel Holding AG proposed a higher dividend for the fourth straight year after the Swiss bank reported a rise in profits for 2015.

The payout will increase 19 percent to 1.85 Swiss francs a share, the Zurich-based company said in a statement on Thursday. That beat a Bloomberg dividend estimate of 1.75 francs a share. Vontobel said net income rose 34 percent to 180.1 million francs ($185 million) last year, with its asset management and financial products units driving growth.

"The financial year 2015 was an unusual year that called for a comprehensive,
prudent and systematic approach," Chief Executive Officer Zeno Staub said in the statement. A strong Swiss franc, negative interest rates, stock market volatility and emerging markets turmoil made for a "challenging operating environment," the company said.

Vontobel is among Swiss banks looking to buy smaller competitors struggling under a crackdown on undeclared offshore accounts and narrowing margins. Twentyfour Asset Management, based in London, has had an annualized asset growth of 39 percent since Vontobel acquired a majority stake in April, the company said. The financial products unit profited from an expansion into Sweden and Finland, and the company will continue to offer product in new countries.

Net new money rose 6.5 percent last year, according to the statement.

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