The heads of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management (AAM) have set out in detail how they will share the top job when the firms’ £11 billion planned merger takes place later this year.
In a move that has raised eyebrows among some analysts, Standard Life’s Keith Skeoch and AAM’s Martin Gilbert will become co-chief executives of the combined group which will oversee some £660bn worth of global assets.
In a statement issued yesterday, the companies said Skeoch will focus on the “fabric” of the merged group, with Gilbert concentrating on external matters.
Skeoch’s responsibilities will include day-to-day running of the merged entity, including investments, pensions and savings, its joint ventures in China and India, operations, finance, HR, risk and regulatory culture, as well as the legal and secretariat functions.
Gilbert will look after external matters including responsibility for international activities, distribution including client engagement and business development, marketing and corporate development.
Yesterday’s announcement was keen to stress how their different skills would complement each other and Shore Capital analyst Paul McGinnis told The Scotsman: “I think they did feel under some pressure to clarify how the responsibilities would be split.”
He said that on the face of it Skeoch’s remit covered most of what a chief executive would normally be expected to be responsible for and Gilbert’s appeared to be more of a figurehead role.
“That perhaps reflects that Standard Life is the much bigger of the two firms in this,” he said.
Gilbert yesterday stressed that both men were “team players”.
He added: “We will draw on our complementary strengths and skillsets to lead the combined company. Keith will oversee the fabric of the company whilst I will be more outward facing, focused on building and strengthening client relationships and developing international business.”
Skeoch said: “Martin and I have built Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life over a number of years into market-leading, people-led businesses. As we bring our businesses together we will provide clear leadership and stability as co-CEOs within the combined organisation.”
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Both will have joint responsibility for communications and the post-merger integration programme, which is set to trigger job cuts among the two firms’ workforces as they target cost savings that could add up to £200 million within three years.
Standard Life currently has about 6,300 staff, with AAM employing some 2,700.
Standard Life chair Sir Gerry Grimstone said the responsibilities announced yesterday “play well to Keith’s and Martin’s respective leadership strengths”.
“This blend of complementary skills and experience will serve the company well,” he added.
A chairman’s committee, headed by Grimstone, will also be established to “ensure effective co-ordination”. Skeoch and Gilbert will sit on this committee, alongside AAM chair Simon Troughton, who is set to become deputy chair of the combined group.