* Says current AUM about C$93.5 billion
* Sees free cash above C$400 mln by year-end
TORONTO, Sept 23 (Reuters) - CI Financial Corp (CIX.TO), one of Canada's largest independent mutual fund managers, said on Wednesday assets under management were at C$93.5 billion ($87.4 billion) in the year-to-date, up from second-quarter figures released last month.
"Based on where assets are today at the 23rd of September, Q3 will be significantly above Q2," CI President Stephen MacPhail told the CIBC annual Eastern Institutional Investor Conference in Montreal.
"And if markets just stay where they are today ... We'd expect to see Q4 as an improvement over Q3."
MacPhail said assets under management included C$65 billion in the CI funds and the United Financial funds, with the remainder made up of assets divided between its other companies, Assante Asset Management and Blackmont Capital, and labor sponsored funds, which earn fees.
CI said in August that fee-earning assets rose 12 percent in the second quarter to C$87.4 billion as markets improved and it notched positive net sales of funds.
MacPhail said the Toronto-based fund manager continued to benefit from cost-cutting measures throughout the year, helping CI boost free cash flow to pay down debt and finance some C$15 million per month in dividend payments.
"The benefit of rising assets and cost containment is that cumulative free cash flow has been dramatic," MacPhail said.
"From January to March, you can see we produced modest free cash flow as markets were still declining. Since the rebound, with our hard control on costs, we have seen free cash rise to C$300 million, and expect it to top C$400 million by year-end."
CI said in August its profit edged higher in the second quarter before a one-time tax charge, earning 20 Canadian cents a share in the three months ended June 30, up 18 percent from 17 Canadian cents a share in the first three months of 2009.
$1=$1.07 Canadian Reporting by Pav Jordan; editing by Rob Wilson