FinancePhoenix buys Standard Life brand, sells some units back to SLA

3 minute read

Pound and U.S. dollar banknotes are seen in this illustration taken January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Insurer Phoenix Group (PHNX.L) will take on the Standard Life brand from asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA)(SLA.L) and sell back some of the businesses it bought from SLA as the pair simplify their partnership.

Phoenix bought Standard Life Aberdeen's European and UK insurance businesses in 2018, a deal that had created a complicated network of products and businesses at both companies which shared the Standard Life brand.

Now the two companies have agreed that Phoenix Group will buy the Standard Life brand, while Standard Life Aberdeen will buy back some savings products under the Wrap brand from Phoenix.

SLA said it will pay Phoenix a net total of 60.5 million pounds ($85.3 million) in the two-way transaction.

"When we did the deal 2-1/2 years ago, we kind of bought the product manufacturing and the economics of the business but we didn't have the brand, marketing and some of the distribution team stayed with Standard Life Aberdeen," Phoenix boss Andy Briggs told Reuters.

"In a fast-paced market, it was not particularly efficient for us to be forever going across to SLA and asking for permission."

He added that the new arrangement was designed to accelerate growth in life insurance products open to new customers. Phoenix's main focus has traditionally been on closed books of business.

Standard Life Aberdeen said it would have a wider review of its branding this year following the brand sale.

"We view this as an incremental positive in simplifying the convoluted Phoenix-SLA structure and hence freeing up management 'bandwidth'," KBW analysts said in a note, adding that the Standard Life brand had become "somewhat confused" after the Standard Life Assurance deal.

Phoenix and SLA have also extended their asset management partnership for 10 years, under which Standard Life Aberdeen currently manages around 147 billion pounds of Phoenix Group assets.

($1 = 0.7108 pounds)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.