Shareholders will have their say on Standard Life’s merger with Aberdeen Asset Management today amid governance concerns over the £11billion tie-up.
The deal requires the backing of at least 75% of Aberdeen shareholders and 50% of Standard Life investors to get the go-ahead, but experts believe the merger will be given the all clear despite unease over the joint chief executive structure and a bumper 16-member board.
The combined entity, to be called Standard Life Aberdeen, will be headed by Keith Skeoch and Aberdeen boss Martin Gilbert.
Mr Skeoch recently said it was “abundantly clear” both men would be required at the helm in order to “get things done.” David McCann, analyst at Numis Securities, said he believed the deal will be voted through by shareholders.
He said: “Future success in the active asset management industry will be determined by being big or small/boutique: you do not want to be stuck in the middle.
“We think the deal reflects Aberdeen and Standard Life choosing to be big.” The merger will make the combined group a top 20 player worldwide by assets under management, he added.
Eyebrows have also been raised over the proposed bonus structure that will see chief investment officer Rod Paris eligible to earn 865% of his £450,000 base salary.
But prospects for investor approval have been boosted after two influential shareholder advisory groups, Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, threw their weight behind the tie-up.
As well as institutional shareholders, Standard Life will also have to convince a sizeable number of retail investors, which make up half of its share register. Totalling 1.2million people, these individual shareholders are spread across the UK.
The deal also faces regulatory scrutiny, with the Competition and Markets Authority last month launching an investigation to ascertain if the tie-up could harm competition in the industry.
If it gets the green light, the merger will create Europe’s second-biggest fund manager with £670billion under management.
Reports at the weekend suggested Standard Life could also be poised to merge with its Edinburgh-based rival Scottish Widows, which is owned by Lloyds Banking Group.
Lloyds has close ties with Aberdeen Asset Management, which bought the Scottish Widows’ fund management arm in 2013.
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