Belfast Telegraph

Standard Life profits rise despite huge investment cash withdrawal in first half

Insurance giant Standard Life has revealed investors pulled out £3.7 billion from its funds in the first half as it nears completion of its £11 billion merger with Aberdeen Asset Management.

The group suffered after its flagship Global Absolute Returns Strategies Fund took a big hit, with net outflows of £5.6 billion.

But despite this, Standard Life notched up a 6% rise in overall pre-tax operating profits to £362 million for the six months to June 30.

Chief executive Keith Skeoch said the group was ready for the "next chapter of our transformation to a diversified world-class investment company" as it prepares to seal its tie-up with Aberdeen Asset Management on August 14.

He added: "The combined leadership team of Standard Life and Aberdeen has been working well together to ensure 'Day 1' readiness."

But analysts said the results highlight the tough market for active fund managers, as investors are shunning the hefty fees of star managers in favour of more passive investing.

Shares fell more than 1% after the results.

Standard Life saw investor withdrawals of £24.4 billion outweigh inflows of £20.7 billion in the half-year.

Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, said: "Standard Life's struggle to stem flows reflects a problem facing the whole active sector.

"Its betrothed, Aberdeen Asset Management, has been suffering net outflows for years."

Eamonn Flanagan, analyst at Shore Capital, said the deal to merge with Aberdeen "still feels like a defensive move by both companies, in an attempt to drive out costs and compete with the world of passives".

The Aberdeen merger was given the green light by regulators in June, while shareholders also overwhelmingly backed the deal.

The enlarged company, to be called Standard Life Aberdeen, will be headed up by Mr Skeoch and Aberdeen boss Martin Gilbert.

The merger will create Europe's second-biggest fund manager, with £670 billion under management.

The deal, announced in March, is targeting cost savings of £200 million a year, with around 800 jobs expected to be lost over a three-year period from a global workforce of 9,000.

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