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AMP lifts first half profit
AMP lifts first half profit

UPDATE 2.25pm Wealth manager AMP has lifted its first half net profit by 10 per cent as it realises the benefits of its merger with AXA Asia Pacific.

AMP today posted a net profit of $383 million for the six months to June 30, up from $349 million in the previous corresponding period.

The rise was largely the result of its merger with AXA, which occurred half way through the previous corresponding first-half period.

AMP's $491 million underlying profit for the six months to June was up seven per cent on the $459 million in the previous corresponding period.

Underlying profit is seen by AMP as a better measure of its performance as it removes costs associated with the merger and some of the impact of investment market volatility.

"The merger has substantially enhanced the competitive position of AMP and the integration continues to deliver ahead of expectations," chief executive Craig Dunn said in a statement.

Despite the rise in underlying profit, AMP has lowered its interim dividend, due to the ongoing volatility in investment markets and growing demand for products that require more capital expenditure.

AMP declared an interim dividend of 12.5 cents per share, 55 per cent franked.

That was down from 14 cents per share for the same period in 2011.

"We're seeing structural change across the financial services sector as we manage the effects of market uncertainty, changing consumer preferences and the emergence of new technologies combined with the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population and significant regulatory change," Mr Dunn said.

"While we're well-advanced in our preparedness for the new regulatory framework, we're still waiting to see the necessary policy detail that will allow us to finalise the required business changes."

AMP expects the cost of implementing regulatory changes over the next 18 months to be in the range of $60 million and $75 million, of which the company has so far set aside $52 million.

"We're not running the business waiting for things to go back to the way they used to be," Mr Dunn said.

"We're running the business for the changed environment we face today and in the future."

Shareholders were impressed with the group’s result, pushing its shares up 20 cents, or 4.8 per cent, to $4.36.