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AAM boss Martin Gilbert reassures over Aberdeen jobs

Martin Gilbert stepped down from the role
Martin Gilbert stepped down from the role

The proposed merger of Aberdeen Asset Management (AAM) and Standard Life will not lead to “dramatic” job losses, AAM chief executive Martin Gilbert said yesterday.

Mr Gilbert went on to say there was unlikely to be much of an impact on workforce numbers in AAM’s home city of Aberdeen.

He was speaking after AAM, which had £308.1billion of assets under management at the end of March, up from £292.8million six months earlier, posted better-than-expected first half results.

The investment giant said buoyant markets and the weaker pound helped “cushion the effects” of net outflows, which slowed from £10.5billion in the last three months of 2016 to £2.9billion in the quarter to March 31.

AAM also reported a 19.8% year-on-year rise in pre-tax profits to £195.2million, while revenue jumped 10.6% to £534.9million on the back of “favourable market conditions” and the completion of an efficiency drive expected to save £70million a year.

Mr Gilbert said details about the likely impact on jobs if Edinburgh-based insurer Standard Life goes ahead with an £11billion takeover would emerge in a shareholders’ prospectus for the proposed deal next week.

“There are areas of overlap but we are not going to see any dramatic job cuts, and especially not in Aberdeen,” he added.

He said AAM’s latest figures reflected “improving sentiment towards emerging markets, combined with our transition to becoming a full-service asset manager offering a broad range of capabilities via multiple distribution channels globally”.

The keen golfer cautioned that political upheavals could upend market optimism but said these were becoming par for the course.

“Bull markets always are always climbing a wall of fear,” he said, adding: “I am always nervous whenever the markets get complacent.”

The proposed all-share deal with Standard Life, which would be the largest of its kind in Scottish corporate history, has been agreed by both companies’ boards.

If shareholders approve the move, the two Scottish financial services firms would become one as early as the third quarter of 2017.

One particularly intriguing aspect is the proposal for Mr Gilbert and Mr Skeoch to share the role of chief executive.

The plan is for Mr Gilbert, 61, to focus on external operations, with Mr Skeoch looking after “the fabric of the business”.

Some market experts have questioned whether this can work, suggesting the unusual job-share arrangement between two “fishing buddies” is doomed from the start.

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