Gilbert explains CEO job split with Skeoch

Keith Skeoch, left, and Martin Gilbert, co-CEOs of Standard Life Aberdeen

Aberdeen Asset Management CEO Martin Gilbert said in an interview on Friday he will focus on external affairs after his company merges with Edinburgh-based Standard Life to create the UK’s largest active fund manager with about £660 billion of assets.

Gilbert told Bloomberg Television that Standard Life CEO Keith Skeoch will run the “fabric of the business” after the merger as he addressed criticism of the proposed co-CEO structure that is part of the merger deal.

“I think that plays to both our strengths — we’ll both be doing the bits of the business we enjoy — so I think it will work very well.

“Co-CEOS are very common in the financial service business …

“In any case it was necessary to do this to bring together two equal sized asset managers to create … hopefully a global investment champion.”

Gilbert said the deal “gives us a chance … of creating something that can grow.”

“It’s about creating size as well … size matters in our business because the sovereign wealth funds want to give money to the big global giants …

“We need to be big to compete with these global giants …”

On the merged company’s ambitions, Gilbert said: “We’d like to take our product set to America rather than try and compete with them in what I regard as the battleground of passive which is US large cap …

“What we can do is compete with them on global equities, global emerging market equities, global debt, global credit.

“One of the great advantages we have is being headquartered in Scotland which is the ideal time zone to run an asset management firm …

“And also bear in mind we’ll be unlike any asset manager in the world — we’ll have about 90% of our assets outside the US.”