Asset management boosts Lazard

US investment bank and advisory firm Lazard has reported strong earnings in excess of analysts' forecasts, driven by its asset management business.

The company, which floated on the New York Stock Exchange in May last year, posted fourth quarter earnings that were 50 per cent higher than the same period of 2004.

Lazard shares rose by up to ten per cent yesterday, following the earnings announcement. The company stressed that it had been forced to change its accounting structures after the initial public offering.

On a comparable basis, earnings soared to $57.3 million in the final quarter of last year, up from $36.6 million the previous year. Net revenue fell from $376.9 million to $367.1 million.

In the past year, the group has advised global giants Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial, Viacom and Time Warner, amongst others. Earnings during the last three months of 2005 were also boosted by Lazard's asset management business.

Stephen Golub, Lazard chief financial officer, said: "We continue to build our backlog and we think our position in the industry is pretty strong."

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