United Kingdom asset managers Standard Life, Aberdeen discuss merger

Under the terms of the potential merger Standard Life chairman Sir Gerry Grimstone would become chairman of the boardDDP USA  REX  SHUTTERSTOCK

Mr Gilbert added: "If you divide it into components it is interesting".

The deal should "alleviate many. headaches" for Aberdeen, having struggled with 18 consecutive quarters of net fund outflows, relative investment performance issues and a lack of significant new drivers for fund gathering.

"That said, there will be concerns about job losses from a merger and staff need to be told exactly what this would mean for them".

The deal, which will create a 660 billion-pound asset manager, is the latest defensive move by the active management industry to combat a tide of investors shifting money to low-priced, passive funds.

Olivetree saw the £200m of cost cuts as "an achievable figure".

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The two groups announced the planned transaction over the weekend.

Numis' analyst David McCann suggested there is a small chance this announcement could flush out other takeover interest in Aberdeen.

"The potential merger represents an excellent opportunity to leverage Standard Life and Aberdeen's combined strengths to create a world class investment company".

Index heavyweight, building materials giant, CRH, dipped 0.69 per cent. Bookmaker and betting exchange Paddy Power Betfair, which is due to publish its first set of full-year results following the merger that created the company, on Tuesday, was down 0.35 per cent at €101.80.

Skeoch said: "We have always been clear that it is Standard Life's ambition to become a world-class investment company and that this would be achieved through continued investment in diversification and growth, coupled with a sharp focus on financial discipline".

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But operational challenges remain, Citi cautioned, despite the more diversified base of assets and extensive distribution network.

"This could create a period of uncertainty but until more news becomes available investors would be wise to stay patient".

With weak US stock and bond returns in the 2000s and early 2010s, traditional "active" stock- and bond-pickers like the ones at Aberdeen and Standard Life have in recent years faced tough competition from low-fee, autopiloted index funds sold by Vanguard, BlackRock, Barclays, Fidelity and a growing list of rivals. In its 2016 annual report, Aberdeen reported outflows of almost £33bn (€38bn) in the 12 months to the end of September.

After completion of the merger, Standard Life shareholders will own 66.7 percent of the group, while Aberdeen AM's shareholders will own approximately 33.3 percent.

There also looks to be a strong whiff of Brexit about the deal, given that the EU exit is expected to raise costs and make European clients harder to reach.

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