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Standard Life, Aberdeen Seek to Stem Outflows Through Merger

The combined firms would bring together £581 billion ($710 billion) in assets under management.

Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management are merging in a deal Standard Life CEO Keith Skeoch says will create “an asset management powerhouse” at a time when many active fund managers are struggling to attract investors.

During a shareholder presentation Monday morning, Skeoch, along with Aberdeen CEO Martin Gilbert, said the merger would help the firms achieve scale and product diversification as active managers – including Aberdeen and Standard Life – face lower returns and increased competition for assets.

Aberdeen has suffered 15 straight quarters of net outflows, including £10.5 billion ($12.9 billion) in redemptions during the latest quarter - an outcome Gilbert attributed to soured sentiment in emerging markets following the U.S. election of President Donald Trump. Standard Life, meanwhile, saw £2.6 billion of redemptions last year from its Global Absolute Return Strategies fund. Lately, though, there are signs of improvement at Aberdeen.

“We’re seeing a market slowdown on the equity outflows,” Gilbert said. “If we do see any change in sentiment in emerging markets, we’ll see pretty significant inflows.”

Skeoch and Gilbert will serve as co-CEOs after the merger is completed, creating one the largest investment managers in Europe with a combined £581 billion of assets. Aberdeen currently holds £303 billion in assets under management while Standard Life manages £278 billion.

“We bring together the combined strength of Aberdeen in emerging markets and Asia with Standard Life’s strengths in developed markets and multi-asset,” Skeoch said. “Together we’ll have the scale to generate opportunity.”

The firm will also be the world’s largest manager of third-party insurance assets, with a combined £182 billion under management.

The two managers said they have little overlap in clients, with just four of their top 50 in common. “It give us a real opportunity to cross-sell around the world,” Gilbert said.

The combined company will retain branding from both Standard Life and Aberdeen, although the name of the new firm has yet to be determined. Standard Life’s chairman, Gerry Grimstone, will be chairman of the combined firm, with Simon Troughton, Aberdeen’s chairman, serving as deputy chairman. Standard Life CIO Rod Paris will be the group chief investment officer.

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