In addition to maintaining or growing our share of transactional markets, the performance of our less transactional business lines was key to this performance. This was achieved against a backdrop of heightened uncertainty through the last quarter as Brexit, US trade policy and higher long term treasury yields, particularly in the benchmark US 10 year Treasury Bond, began to have a discernible impact on investor sentiment in a number of markets across the Globe.
The Group anticipates that underlying results for the year to 31 December 2018 will be in line with the Board’s expectations.
The UK delivered a resilient performance in the Commercial Transaction businesses in an environment of relatively robust occupier demand and continued strong investment interest, particularly from the Asia Pacific region, albeit that the market volume of trade declined in comparison with 2017. Our Residential business continued to perform well growing market share in challenging conditions and our less transactional Consultancy and Property Management businesses, in the UK and globally, performed in line with our expectations.
Our Asia Pacific and Continental European transactional businesses performed as anticipated, with particularly strong results from Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Ireland and Germany. In addition we benefited from an encouraging maiden year performance from Savills Aguirre Newman in Spain.
In the US, we delivered significant growth in the Occupier Service business (including tenant representation brokerage). This led to an improved performance overall for the year, even after the continued costs of investment in the business including significant investment in management and in our central office platform.
Savills Investment Management successfully navigated the expected significant decline in activity relating to disposals from liquidating the SEB Open-Ended Funds. The business launched a number of new products, raising significant new capital, increasing its Assets Under Management and achieving a result in line with our expectations for the year.
The performance of our existing businesses together with a deliberate reduction in business development investment under current market conditions, led to a stronger year-end net cash position than originally expected for the Group.
Prospects for 2019 are overshadowed by macro-economic and political uncertainties across the World. It is difficult accurately to predict the impact of these issues on corporate expansionary activity and investor demand for real estate. At this stage, we expect to see declines in transaction volumes in a number of markets, the impact of which, to Savills, should be largely mitigated by growth in our less transactional business lines; accordingly we currently anticipate that the Group’s performance in 2019 should be broadly consistent year-on- year.