Martin Gilbert cashes in on Aberdeen share rise

Martin Gilbert was cashin in shares from his bonus from 2008 to 2010. Picture: Getty

Martin Gilbert was cashin in shares from his bonus from 2008 to 2010. Picture: Getty

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Aberdeen Asset Management chief Martin Gilbert has pocketed almost £6.2 million after selling a tranche of shares in the fund manager, which he co-founded more than 30 years ago.

The sale, made the day after the group unveiled a rise in annual profits, came as part of a wider disposal of bonus shares by Aberdeen executives totalling more than £14m.

The firm revealed yesterday that Gilbert sold more than 1.3 million shares at 461.1p each – close to the highest level they have reached over the past six months – representing part of his annual bonuses for 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Following the pre-Christmas windfall, Aberdeen’s chief executive retains shares, including those that have yet to vest, worth about £24m.

On Monday, the firm – which acquired rival Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (Swip) for £606m earlier this year – reported a 2 per cent rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £490m for the year to 30 September.

Chairman Roger Cornick said at the time: “The world is facing a series of political and economic uncertainties so that, looking ahead, we expect economies and markets to remain susceptible to periods of volatility. However, we enter the new year in a strong financial position, with a broadened and enhanced range of products and an increasingly diversified global client base.”

Aberdeen also revealed yesterday that Hugh Young, group head of equities and managing director of its Asian business, sold shares worth almost £4.3m, while chief investment officer Anne Richards netted more than £1.7m.

Finance director Bill Rattray cashed in £1.1m worth of shares from his 2007 and 2008 annual bonuses, and deputy chief executive Andrew Laing pocketed more than £800,000.

A spokesman said: “The sales involve deferred shares awarded to executive directors in previous years as part of their remuneration packages. A significant proportion of bonuses earned are paid in shares that are released in equal tranches over subsequent years.”

He added: “These sales should not be interpreted as conveying a view on the group’s performance or its outlook and all the directors involved remain long-term investors.”

The disposals were announced as Charles Stanley downgraded Aberdeen’s stock from “accumulate” to “hold”, pointing to a rally in the fund manager’s share price of about 20 per cent since early October.

Analyst Minal Shah said: “With global equity markets again trading at or near all-time highs, it may be advisable to wait for any near-term weakness before adding to positions.

“While the future direction of markets is likely to remain the primary driver of stock performance, a sustained recovery in net flows and investor appetite for emerging market equity strategies will additionally be key.”

• Six institutional investors, including Standard Life, will put about £9 billion over the next five years into high-yielding investments in British companies, schools and roads following tax changes, the Investment Management Association said yesterday.

The Chancellor announced on Wednesday that interest accrued on private placement investments – a form of long-term, non-bank debt financing for smaller firms and infrastructure projects – would be exempt from withholding tax.

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