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Nish strikes China deal for Standard Life

Standard Life is stepping up its interests in China just weeks after its shock decision to end its 180-year link with Canada. Chief executive David Nish, who professes a preference for the company to be boring, seems to be having a go at making it a little more intriguing.

The company has tied up a deal with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)  to identify opportunities for the benefit of both businesses in China, Hong Kong and the UK. ICBC already has a long-standing relationship with Standard Life’s joint venture in China, Heng An Standard Life.

Not only is this latest deal a further extension of Standard Life’s business into the world’s fastest-growing economy, it is a two-way arrangement, inviting ICBC to develop its business in the UK.

They will work together in developing savings and investment products and will use the agreement to swap knowledge and expertise at senior management level.

Although the ink is barely dry on this deal, analysts will already be asking where Nish’s next move might be. He surprised the markets last month with the £2.2 billion sale of the Canadian business to Manulife and has been suggesting that the Indian business would be next to receive attention.

Speaking last month he raised questions about the the Indian private insurance arm and a shareholding in the country’s leading mutual funds business. “I don’t see much value attached to them,” he said.

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