Standard Life Aberdeen has won its dispute with Lloyds Banking Group/Scottish Widows (LBG).
An arbitration panel has ruled that LBG was not entitled to give notice, on 14 February 2018, to terminate the investment management agreements regarding the assets managed by members of the Standard Life Aberdeen group.
As at 31 December 2018, the value of the LGB assets under management was around £100bn and, Standard Life Aberdeen confirmed, no material amount of assets has since been withdrawn.
LBG had argued that Standard Life Aberdeen was a material competitor and therefore should not manage the assets which were formerly managed by Aberdeen on behalf of Lloyds, prior to the merger with Standard Life.
Standard Life Aberdeen said in a statement: “The Company is carefully considering the terms of the decision and appropriate next steps. In the meantime, the Company will continue to manage the assets in the best interests of LBG’s customers.”
Keith Skeoch, the Chief Executive of Standard Life Aberdeen, added: “Now that the arbitration panel has ruled in our favour, we will carefully consider our next steps, working constructively with LBG to bring the matter to resolution.”
Laith Khalaf, Senior Analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown, commented: “This is a big victory for Standard Life Aberdeen, and a serious setback for Lloyds’ new foray into wealth management.
“While this is relatively low margin business for Standard Life Aberdeen, it’s clearly a large sum of money, and against a backdrop of fund outflows, will be particularly well-received. A big part of the rationale for the merger between Standard Life and Aberdeen was built on scale, which £100 billion of assets clearly speaks to.
“Lloyds has already ear-marked the lion’s share of these assets to form the basis of its new joint venture with Schroders, and has also hired Blackrock to manage some passive strategies.
“Negotiations will now begin between Standard Life and Lloyds to find some sort of resolution. This could involve Standard Life Aberdeen remaining as manager of the assets until 2022, or Lloyds stumping up some cash for breaking the agreement early.
“We think there could even be a bit of mix and match, where Lloyds pays to release some assets to get its joint venture with Schroders up and running, while leaving some funds with Standard Life Aberdeen. We’ll be watching for further details as and when negotiations are concluded.”