Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life set out co-chief executive plans for "team players" Martin Gilbert and Keith Skeoch

 
William Turvill
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There have been City concerns about whether a co-chief executive set-up between Martin Gilbert (pictured) and Keith Skeoch could work (Source: Getty)

Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life have set out a plan for how their chief executives will both lead a merged company.

After the £11bn merger was announced earlier this month, there had been City concerns about how, and whether, the co-chief exec structure could work in practice.

They said today that Standard Life’s Keith Skeoch will handle the “day to day running of the fabric of the combined business”, while Aberdeen’s Martin Gilbert will focus on “external matters”.

Read more: Standard Life-Aberdeen deal expected to spark asset management M&A flurry

“A lot of the coverage since the deal was announced has concentrated particularly on the issue of the co-chief executives,” Shore Capital analyst Paul McGinnis told City A.M.

“I presume, therefore, they felt obliged to put a little bit more meat on the bones and give a more detailed assessment of who's doing what.”

He added: “It would seem that there is a heavy bias in the duties assigned to Keith Skeoch versus Martin Gilbert.

“Gilbert appears to be taking on more of a figurehead role. But if that's the case then are they actually both chief executives?”

Gilbert today played down concerns, saying he and Skeoch are both “team players”.

“Keith and I have established a strong working relationship during the deal process and the mutual respect and trust which has been established will form the basis of our ongoing working relationship,” he said.

“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. 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.

The companies said Skeoch would be responsible for “investments, pensions and savings, the India and China insurance joint ventures, operations, finance, HR, risk and regulatory culture, as well as the legal and secretariat functions”.

Read more: Standard Life confirms £3.8bn deal with Aberdeen Asset Management

Gilbert will be in charge of “international activities, distribution including client engagement and business development, marketing and corporate development”.

Sir Gerry Grimstone, chairman of the proposed combined group, said:

I am delighted that we have announced these clear accountabilities for the co-CEOs in the combined business. Both boards have thought carefully about the key responsibilities and believe that the proposals play well to Keith’s and Martin’s respective leadership strengths. This blend of complementary skills and experience will serve the company well.

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