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Investors Group on a tear

Great Recession setbacks mere distant memory now

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Investors Group president and CEO Murray Taylor, at Friday's annual general meeting, says the company's assets and consultant network show strong growth.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Investors Group president and CEO Murray Taylor, at Friday's annual general meeting, says the company's assets and consultant network show strong growth. Photo Store

Downturn? What economic downturn?

A little more than five years after the bottom fell out of stock markets around the world, Investors Group is back at the top of its game.

The Winnipeg-based mutual-fund giant reported a pair of all-time highs prior to Friday's annual general meeting at the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre.

Its assets under management hit $70.9 billion for its first quarter ended March 31, up from $63 billion a year ago, while its consultant network jumped from 4,673 to 4,731 over the same period.

'We weathered the downturn extremely well'

-- Murray Taylor, CEO of Investors Group

"We weathered the downturn extremely well," said Murray Taylor, president and CEO of Investors Group.

"Both our assets and consultant network tended to flatten during (the downturn) when many around the world saw huge declines and major business changes.

"We've seen growth begin in many ways in 2013, and we're seeing, for the first quarter of this year, a strong continuity of that in assets and our consultant network."

Unlike its sister company, Great-West Lifeco, which is pursuing acquisitions and growth in the United States and Europe, Investors Group and its parent company, IGM Financial, are focused close to home.

"We want to focus very much on the organic growth opportunities that we have here in Canada," Taylor said.

That's driven in no small part by the fact the likelihood of another acquisition such as Mackenzie Financial, which IGM bought in 2001 for $4.15 billion, is remote, because the number of companies in play is not nearly as big now as a few years ago.

"We do not feel we need acquisitions to grow. If acquisitions come across our path, we are extremely able to consider them. We have the financial and intellectual capabilities to do them, but it's not something we feel we need to do in order to grow," he said.

Taylor mentioned Investors Group Field near the end of his speech to shareholders and joked he's looking forward to a "much improved" Winnipeg Blue Bombers team this year.

"We have nowhere to go but up," he said, adding he has been extremely pleased with the investment because the stadium is the cream of the CFL crop and because it has welcomed so many non-football events since it opened 11 months ago.

IGM reported earnings available to common shareholders for the first quarter of $194.4 million on Friday, or 77 cents per share, up from $180.5 million (72 cents) for the same three-month period a year ago.

IGM shares (IGM/TSX) closed down 26 cents in Friday's trading to $54.16 on volume of 151,025.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 10, 2014 B6

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