STANDARD Life chief executive Keith Skeoch will continue to have day-to-day responsibility for running the investment giant following its £11 billion merger with Aberdeen Asset Management.
The two companies moved to clarify the roles Mr Skeoch and Aberdeen boss Martin Gilbert will hold as co-chief executives if the mega-merger is approved by shareholders.
It comes after questions were raised over the practicality of the merged business being run by joint chief executives in the long term.
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Mr Skeoch, who succeeded David Nish in the top role at Standard Life in 2015, will have “individual accountability for the day-to-day running of the fabric of the combined business”, a statement issued yesterday confirmed.
That will include responsibility for investments, pensions, savings, and Standard Life’s joint venture insurance businesses in India and China, as well as functions such as operations, finance, human resources and risk.
Mr Gilbert, who co-founded Aberdeen in 1983, will be responsible for external matters such as international activities and distribution, including client engagement and business development.
He will also be responsible for marketing and corporate development.
Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at stock broker Hargreaves Lansdown, said the division of responsibilities outlined yesterday suggests Mr Skeoch will have the “lion’s share of the responsibilities”.But he insistedit is too early to say whether Mr Skeoch will ultimately emerge as the sole leader of the merged business.
While Mr Gilbert may ultimately switch to a non-executive role such as chairman, Mr Khalaf said, the fact the two executives have joint accountability for matters including integrating funds following the merger means that kind of move is unlikely in the short term.
“The co-chief executive is going to be the status quo for the foreseeable future,” Mr Khalaf said. “Ultimately, we may see a change with Martin Gilbert going to a non-executive role, but I think it is so far away it is almost not worth talking about.”
Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management stunned City watchers when news of their mega merger broke this month. The deal, which has still to be ratified by shareholders, will create one of the biggest fund management companies in the world, with £66bn of assets under management.
It is forecast savings of £200 million per year will be made as a result of the merger. But there are fears significant job losses are on the cards, given the overlap between the two organisations in certain areas.
Under the new “organisational design” of the combined companies unveiled yesterday, Mr Skeoch and Mr Gilbert will share responsibility for core aspects of the role such as the executive committee.
They are jointly charged with developing and promoting the combined group’s strategy and objectives, and monitoring its operational performance and direction.
Mr 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.
“In the meantime, we each remain focused not just on the successful completion of the merger, but also on the needs of our people, clients, customers and shareholders.”
Mr Gilbert said: “Keith and I have established a strong working relationship during the deal process and the mutual respect and trust that has been established will form the basis of our ongoing working relationship.
“Importantly, we are both team players and see the benefit of delegating decision-making as well as seeking guidance from others to formulate clear strategic objectives.
“We will draw on our complementary strengths and skillsets to lead the combined company.”