Market buzz unfounded...

Standard Life Aberdeen denies Gilbert to leave as Lloyds deal agreed

Martin Gilbert

Wanted: Martin Gilbert

Martin Gilbert will not be stepping down from the board of Standard Life Aberdeen, according to the company which has denied speculation about his future swirling around financial markets.

The Financial Times reported that he would be leaving the board to take up a new role as chairman of challenger bank Revolut.

He has been SLA’s vice-chairman and head of Aberdeen Standard Investments since the co-CEO structure was abandoned earlier this year, amid criticism that it confused the group’s leadership.

A spokesman for Standard Life Aberdeen claimed the report that Gilbert would leave the asset manager to focus on Revolut was “inaccurate”.

He said: “If the company had any announcements to make as regards its executive team then it would do so through the proper channels. As policy we don’t comment on rumour and speculation.”

Mr Gilbert co-founded Aberdeen Asset Management and helped pull together its £11bn all-share merger with Standard Life two years ago. But he has faced criticism for taking on too many roles while SLA has suffered substantial outflows and a poor share performance.

Speculation over Mr Gilbert emerged as it was confirmed that Lloyds Banking Group has agreed to pay about £140m to Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) to settle a bitter battle over the future of a £109 billion asset management mandate.

The agreement with Lloyds allows Edinburgh-based SLA to retain management of about £35 billion until 2022 when it will be reviewed. This comprises circa £30bn in passive portfolios as well as circa £5bn in real estate funds. 

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An announcement was made this morning, four months after an arbitral tribunal ruled that Lloyds had not been entitled to give notice in February last year to terminate the contract ‎with SLA to manage the funds for Lloyds’ subsidiary Scottish Widows.

There had been speculation of a higher cash payment from Lloyds which set aside £339m to cover the severance costs relating to the dispute, although it was pointed out that this involved wider costs.

Lloyds has already announced that its asset management mandate is to be split between BlackRock and Schroders. Antonio Horta-Osorio, Lloyds’ chief executive, ‎has said he believes the new platform can become a top three financial advice business in the UK during the next five years.

Retention of a a third of the Widows fund will be regarded as a victory of sorts for SLA has been fighting a battle to staunch outflows which have impacted on its share price and reputation since the merger of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management.

In the last 12 months, the company’s shares have fallen by 16%, leaving it with a market value of just £7.3bn.

Sir Douglas Flint, who became SLA’s‎ chairman at the turn of the year, is likely to come under pressure from investors to identify a successor to CEO Keith Skeoch in the next year.

The company will announce half-year results on 7 August.

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