Standard Life Aberdeen CEOs hit merger pay jackpot

LONDON (Reuters) - Standard Life Aberdeen SLA.L revealed its chief executives took home bumper pay packets in 2017 after the duo engineered an 11 billion pound merger of their rival Scottish firms.

FILE PHOTO: A worker walks inside the Standard Life House in Edinburgh, Scotland February 27, 2014. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne/File Photo

Total pay for Keith Skeoch, the former CEO of insurer and asset manager Standard Life, rose by nine percent to 3 million pounds in 2017, according to SLA’s first annual report.

His co-chief executive Martin Gilbert, Aberdeen Asset Management’s former boss and Skeoch’s fishing partner, was paid 4.3 million pounds in the 12 months to December 2017, according to data supplied by an SLA spokesman.

This compared with Gilbert’s pay of 2.8 million pounds in the 12 months to September 2016, the end of Aberdeen’s last full financial year, the data showed.

SLA also said it had changed its remuneration policy to cut future maximum pay packages for its top executives to bring it into line with peers, as it shifts to an asset management focus.

As part of this strategy change, SLA said on Friday it had agreed to sell the bulk of its insurance business to Phoenix Group PHNX.L for 3.24 billion pounds.

As an investor, FTSE 100-listed SLA has been critical of pay and governance at other listed firms.

SLA also published its gender pay gap, fulfilling a new British government requirement. As of April 2017, men were paid on average 34 percent more than women at Aberdeen, and 42 percent more than women at Standard Life.

The figures show a larger gap than for insurer and asset manager Aviva AV.L, which published a gender pay gap below 30 percent last month.

SLA also separately announced on Friday several board changes, including the departure by the end of 2019 of chairman Gerry Grimstone, 68, who became Standard Life chairman in 2007.

A former government official, Grimstone has been deputy chairman of Barclays BARC.L since 2016. He is also a former chairman of financial services lobby group TheCityUK.

Julie Chakraverty, Lynne Peacock and Akira Suzuki will retire from the board at its next annual general meeting.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn and Huw Jones; editing by Alexander Smith