Standard Life eyes merger with Scottish Widows

Life assurer Scottish Widows is owned by Lloyds Banking Group

Meetings today should seen Standard Life's £11bn merger with Edinburgh-based fund manager Aberdeen Asset Management ratified by shareholders of both groups, but the Scottish Widows talk adds a third element to the mix.

The new firm, named Standard Life Aberdeen, will be co-headed by Aberdeen's head Martin Gilbert and Standard Life's chief executive Keith Skeoch.

Discussions on the strategic partnership with Lloyds were already mentioned when Standard Life and Aberdeen announced their plans to merge earlier this year.

Senior City sources told The Sunday Times that talks about a possible deal between Standard Life and Scottish Widows were expected to begin this week.

The deal requires the backing of at least 75% of Aberdeen shareholders and 50% of Standard Life investors on Monday.

Skeoch said: "We are - yes, you are right in terms of becoming more of a world-class investment company than a life assurer".

Could Aberdeen/Standard Life merger be a game-changer?

Lloyds Banking Group, which owns Widows, has been looking at options for the business for some time.

"It is the intention that the combined group will explore ways in good faith to build a successful relationship with Lloyds for the benefit of their respective customers, businesses, shareholders and other stakeholders".

Lloyds rose 0.5% to 68.83p, Standard Life rose to 391.7p and Aberdeen jumped 3% to 294p.

Lloyds, which has recently returned fully to private ownership, sold the fund management business of Widows to AAM three years ago. The bank also said it had agreed, for a period of six months, to delay making decisions on whether to terminate any arrangements with Aberdeen.

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