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Standard Life-Aberdeen merger

Gilbert plays down concern over joint CEO plan

Martin Gilbert
Martin Gilbert – confirmed for EIE

Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life have given more details on how their joint-CEOs will run the combined business when they merge.

Martin Gilbert (left), who heads the Aberdeen fund manager said he will concentrate on external matters while his counterpart Keith Skeoch at Standard Life “will run the fabric of the business.”

City reaction to the shared leadership role in the £11 billion deal was not particularly favourable and more questions are likely to be asked about how it will work.

Eamonn Flanagan, an analyst at broker Shore Capital, said: “A single chief executive calling the shots and retaining overall responsibility is critical in all such transactions.”

The companies plan to release a statement this week giving more information in the hope that the plan does not detract too much from the benefits of the tie-up. They are also under pressure to detail how they intend to cut £200 out of the business.

The merged group will manage about £660 billion on behalf of more than five million customers.

Standard Life shareholders will get two-thirds of the new group and also gets the chairmanship, with Sir Gerry Grimstone taking on the expanded role. The merged business is also almost certain to be based in Edinburgh.

While the deal still has to be ratified there are discussions over a new name for the company, which is likely to include “Aberdeen”. It is understood the fund management arm will be known as Aberdeen Standard Asset Management.

Mr Gilbert dismissed talk of 1,000 job losses. He told the Mail on Sunday: “That was exaggerated. This isn’t about job losses. It’s about creating a world-class investment company.”

He said staff would find out what was likely to happen to their jobs in the next four months.

Highly-regarded Standard Life head of equities David Cumming unexpectedly quit last week in what looked like the first high profile casualty of the deal.

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