Historic 200-year-old Standard Life brand name sold to Phoenix Group - Edinburgh staff to transfer

Standard Life Aberdeen is set for a name change after the funds giant sealed a deal to sell the 196-year-old Standard Life brand to Phoenix Group.

Standard Life Aberdeen was formed through the merger of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management in 2017. Picture: Graham Flack

The deal follows market speculation and will see some 60 staff joining Phoenix at its operational headquarters in Edinburgh to support its marketing, distribution and data team functions.

Phoenix Group acquired Standard Life Assurance in 2018 and already has some 2,800 staff based in Scotland, the majority at its operational HQ in the capital.

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The insurer said the new agreement “significantly simplifies” the firms’ strategic partnership, enabling Phoenix to control its own distribution, marketing and brands. At the same time Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) will have a stake of about 14 per cent in Phoenix.

As part of the original 2018 transaction, Phoenix paid SLA a total of just over £3.2 billion. Under the latest deal, Phoenix said it would receive £115 million in cash, ownership of the Standard Life brand, while the two firms will “resolve all legacy issues” in relation to the transitional services agreement entered into in connection with the acquisition.

The value of the Standard Life brand has not been disclosed.

Stephen Bird, chief executive of SLA, said: “This agreement builds on the strong foundations of our long-standing relationship with Phoenix and the simplification of our strategic partnership enables both groups to focus the partnership on the provision of Standard Life Aberdeen’s high-quality asset management services to Phoenix and its customers.

“I am also delighted that Phoenix has agreed to extend our strategic asset management partnership until 2031 and believe this is testament to the expertise and excellent service ASI [Aberdeen Standard Investments] delivers as a leading asset manager.”

Andy Briggs, chief executive of Phoenix Group, said: “This agreement is a natural progression of our strong strategic partnership with SLA and significantly simplifies our relationship.

“I am delighted that Phoenix now owns all of the life and pensions business of Standard Life, including the brand and all distribution and marketing, and we are committed to investing in this business. This will enable Phoenix to accelerate the delivery of a broader set of product and service propositions to meet the financial needs of our customers as they journey to and through retirement.”

Under the strategic asset management partnership, SLA currently manages some £147.4bn of Phoenix Group assets, with that deal now extended until at least 2031.

SLA said it had initiated a branding review, the outcome of which will be announced later this year. It will include all client facing businesses and the publicly listed company.

Bird added: “The ‘Standard Life’ brand has an important heritage. In the UK, it has strong recognition as a life insurance and workplace pensions brand. This is closely aligned with Phoenix’s strategy and customer base.

“This is much less the case with the business we are building at Standard Life Aberdeen which is focused on global asset management, our market-leading platforms offerings to UK financial advisers and their customers, and our UK savings and wealth businesses. That’s why I am excited about the work we are doing on our own brand, which we look forward to sharing later this year”.

The move sees SLA pay around £115m, although over £54m is being repaid by Phoenix.

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