Standard Life Aberdeen sheds Gilbert legacy with Parmenion sale

Business

Standard Life Aberdeen is preparing to further unwind the legacy of its former chief by putting a platform which services independent financial advisers on the block.

Sky News has learnt that the asset management giant is to launch an auction of Parmenion, which manages roughly £6.5bn of investments on behalf of IFAs, according to its website.

An announcement confirming the disposal plan could be made to the London Stock Exchange as soon as Monday.

London Stock Exchange
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An announcement could be made to the London Stock Exchange as soon as Monday

Fenchurch Advisory Partners, a subsidiary of the French investment bank Natixis, has been appointed to handle the sale, according to City sources.

The planned sale represents the latest effort by new chief executive Stephen Bird to simplify one of the UK’s largest asset management groups.

Since he was parachuted in by SLA chairman Douglas Flint in the autumn, Mr Bird has begun a shake-up of the company, pleasing shareholders who have pressed for a faster overhaul.

Analysts said the decision to sell Parmenion could raise between £150m and £200m.

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A sale would create the capacity to invest in growth areas of SLA’s business, said an insider.

Parmenion was acquired by Aberdeen Asset Management under chief executive Martin Gilbert in 2016.

Mr Gilbert said at the time that the business would put Aberdeen “at the forefront of the digital revolution in asset management”.

The logo of French bank Natixis
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A subsidiary of the French investment bank Natixis, has been appointed to handle the sale

When Aberdeen and Standard Life merged the following year to form SLA, it resulted in a duplication of platforms within the enlarged group serving IFAs, according to people close to the company

Mr Gilbert and Keith Skeoch became SLA’s joint CEOs, but chose not to offload Parmenion, despite the fact that the group’s remaining IFA service platforms boast just over half of the UK IFA market.

“It should have been sold well before now,” said one insider.

In a statement issued in response to an enquiry from Sky News, Mr Bird said: “Since my appointment in September, I have been intensely focused on how we develop our strategy, take out cost and complexity, and reconfigure our business around our key growth vectors – our investments, adviser and direct-to-consumer businesses.

“Parmenion is a fantastic and highly regarded business but we need to simplify our offering to financial advisers.

“We will focus on our two adviser platforms, Wrap and Elevate, which operate on the same core technology.

“In the coming months we will be simplifying our model by merging their underlying technology, while retaining differentiated propositions for advisers.”

Mr Bird indicated in an interview with Bloomberg News this month that he would consider acquisitions on a selective basis.

SLA’s shares have fallen by more than 15% during the last year but it remains one of Europe’s largest asset managers and has a market value of almost £6bn.

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