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Aug. 9, 2016, 2:47 a.m. EDT

Standard Life profit rises 18%, beats expectations

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By Olga Cotaga

LONDON--Standard Life PLC (SL.LN) reported on Tuesday an 18% rise in underlying operating profit for the first half of 2016, beating market expectations, but said it foresees high uncertainty in the near future.

The Edinburgh-based financial services company said assets under management increased 7% to 328 billion pounds ($428 billion) in the period, from GBP307.4 billion a year earlier.

Standard Life's investments division had a good performance, the pensions and savings company said, adding the division's assets under management rose 6% to GBP269 billion.

Standard Life Investments suspended trading in a GBP2.9 billion U.K. commercial real-estate fund after the number of investors asking to pull their money out rose in the aftermath of the country's vote to leave the European Union. Standard Life said it took the action because of exceptional market circumstances.

The company made an adjusted operating profit of GBP341 million for the six months ended June 30, up 18% from GBP290 million the year before, after fee-based revenue rose to GBP794 million from GBP761 million.

The board proposed a first-half dividend of 6.47 pence a share, up 7.5% from 6.02 pence a year earlier.

Analysts' consensus for operating profit was GBP314 million, according to Standard Life's website.

Panmure Gordon had projected a first-half underlying operating profit of GBP315 million and an interim dividend of 6.48 pence a share, saying the shares of the FTSE-100 company had been hit overly hard post-Brexit. The brokerage has a buy rating on Standard Life and a target price of 433 pence.

Standard Life shares closed Monday at 318.50 pence.

Write to Olga Cotaga at olga.cotaga@wsj.com, Twitter @OlgaCotaga

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