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Controversial support for group

Grimstone backs rule change to allow Saudi listing

Gerry Grimstone

Sir Gerry Grimstone: London must remain competitive

Standard Life Aberdeen chairman Sir Gerry Grimstone says he supports the controversial listing of oil giant Saudi Aramco in London.

His comments at the Conservative Party conference put him at odds with peers in the asset management industry.

The Treasury and Business select committees in the Commons have quizzed the Financial Conduct Authority over its plan to loosen listing rules to let the sovereign-controlled firm list in the UK.

The move coincides with attempts to lure Saudi Arabia to list its state oil group on the London Stock Exchange in an IPO which could value the company at £1 trillion making it the largest listed company in the world.

London and New York are the frontrunners for the listing, but a flotation on the London Stock Exchange would require a change in the listing rules because of the size of Saudi Aramco.

Sir Gerry said London must attract companies like Saudi Aramco if it wants to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

He said: “I think that company should be listed here. No one would say that Saudi Aramco is not well-run.If a company is well-run we need to encourage that company to come to London.”

Others in the fund management industry argue the rules that protect minority shareholders are being diluted for one company.

Royal London Asset Management corporate governance manager Ashley Hamilton Claxton says amending existing rules for one company is not an effective strategy for regulating the market as a whole.

Investment Association chief executive Chris Cummings has also said the proposed changes fail minority shareholders.

On corporate pay Sir Gerry told the fringe meeting in Manchester that the government’s proposed reforms on corporate governance were “incrementalism rather than radicalism” and would not be enough to fix public perceptions of business.

“We would like to see the government taking much stronger action,” he said.

“I have no problem with Gary Lineker making more than two million a year if he hits the ball in the back of the net…What I am absolutely against is high, inappropriate pay.”

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