Standard Life-Aberdeen: A Marriage for Troubled Times

Standard Life-Aberdeen: A Marriage for Troubled Times

Standard Life-Aberdeen: A Marriage for Troubled Times

United Kingdom insurer and asset manager Standard Life has confirmed a deal to merge with rival Aberdeen Asset Management in an all share deal for £3.8bn ($4.7bn).

The move will create one of the UK's largest fund managers, overseeing assets worth £660bn.

Initial reports suggested that Standard Life was preparing a £3.8 bn (€4.39 bn) takeover of rival Aberdeen, but the two companies said on Monday that they were now looking at an all-share merger.

After completion of the merger, Standard Life shareholders will own 66.7 percent of the group, while Aberdeen AM's shareholders will own approximately 33.3 percent.

Gerry Grimstone, Standard Life chairman for almost a decade, will retain that position at the new company with Aberdeen's Simon Troughton assuming the deputy chairman role.

- The chief executive role will be split between Standard Life boss Keith Skeoch and Aberdeen's founder and Chief Executive Martin Gilbert.

"Aberdeen has been overly reliant on Asian and emerging markets for a long time and this has created significant volatility in its business performance, while Standard Life will see those Asian and emerging market assets as very complementary to its fixed interest and United Kingdom asset base".

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Both Aberdeen and Standard Life Investments focus on actively picking stocks and bonds, an investment style which has come under additional pressure from the rise of cheap index-tracking funds.

He added: "The combination of our businesses will create a formidable player in the active asset management industry globally".

If Aberdeen and Standard Life complete their merger, Lloyds Banking Group - a 10% shareholder in Aberdeen - will hold a small stake in the combined group.

The rise in passive investing, which invests in very low-priced funds that simply track a market, is hurting traditional fund managers, which are expensive and rely on fund managers generating outperformance.

The companies said they are expecting to make around £200 million of annual cost savings from the deal. The board will be made up of equal numbers of directors from both firms.

But its biggest fund by a fair distance is its absolute return fund - Standard Life Investments Global Absolute Return Strategies - known as GARS. The companies have now confirmed that their respective boards are engaged in discussions and meant to continue their conversation despite the premature press coverage. Until more news becomes available, investors would be wise to stay patient, the analyst said.

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