Standard Life Assurance owner Phoenix reveals European sale talks

In a short statement, the group said discussions were ongoing and there was no certainty a deal will be struck.

It added: “The board of Phoenix Group Holdings plc notes the recent press speculation regarding the potential sale of its European businesses and confirms that it is now in advanced discussions in respect of a potential sale.

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“A sale of the European businesses will only be considered if it maximises value for shareholders. Discussions are on-going and there can be no certainty that any transaction will be agreed.

Phoenix Group acquired Edinburgh-based Standard Life Assurance in 2018. Picture: David CheskinPhoenix Group acquired Edinburgh-based Standard Life Assurance in 2018. Picture: David Cheskin
Phoenix Group acquired Edinburgh-based Standard Life Assurance in 2018. Picture: David Cheskin

“The person responsible for arranging for the release of this announcement on behalf of Phoenix is Gerald Watson, group company secretary.”

The statement was released after Sky News reported that Phoenix was finalising the details of a sale to European Life Group Holding (ELG), a privately owned vehicle backed by the US-based fund Sixth Street. It said that a deal – worth about £550 million – could be announced as early as this week.

Phoenix Group acquired Standard Life Assurance in 2018 and has some 2,800 staff based in Scotland, the majority at its operational HQ in Edinburgh.

In February, Standard Life Aberdeen sealed a deal to sell the 196-year-old Standard Life brand to Phoenix.

Then last month the investment giant announced that it would be changing its group name to Abrdn, creating a “modern, agile, digitally-enabled brand”.

The new name – which the firm said should be pronounced “Aberdeen” – marks the “next stage in the reshaping of the business and future-focused growth strategy”. It comes as the group focuses on three key areas – global asset management, technology platforms for UK financial advisers and their customers, and UK savings and wealth.

The rebranding roll-out process for the new name and associated visual identity will begin in the summer and progress through 2021, the firm added.

Laith Khalaf, financial analyst at AJ Bell, said: “Standard Life Aberdeen needed to sort out its branding, but the new Abrdn name will likely leave investors feeling dazed and confused.”

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