Standard Life’s virtually nil-premium proposal for taking over Aberdeen Asset Management tells shareholders all they need to know about the pressures facing the investment industry. Only significant cost savings would give shareholders in both companies a reprieve from their respective underperformance versus peers over the past year. Be under no illusion. Despite the bluster about the creation of a “world class” investment company this defensive deal is about stripping out costs as much as the likely scale achieved. Based on the undisturbed share prices, the offer of 0.757 Standard Life share for each Aberdeen share represents a wafer thin premium, lower than that paid recently by Amundi for Unicredit’s Pioneer asset management division.

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