Standard Life chairman fails to dispel job fears in Edinburgh

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Standard Life chairman Sir Gerry Grimstone has failed to dispel concerns about a potential merger with Scottish Widows amid fears of further job losses at the two firms.

The two finance giants – which employ 6300 and 3500 workers respectively – are reported to be considering a future merger which would almost inevitably lead to job cuts.

Sir Gerry yesterday tried to downplay the suggestion, saying the company had “enough on its hands” with its newly-approved merger with Aberdeen Asset Management.

However, he refused to rule out the move, saying there could be talks with Scottish Widows’ owner Lloyds Bank further down the line.

His comments were made as Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management shareholders yesterday voted through a £11 billion merger, a move which will see the loss of 800 jobs from a workforce of 9000 over a three-year period. They failed to quell concerns about further restructuring and the impact that might have on staff.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, Lib Dem MSP for Edinburgh Western, said talk of any potential merger between Standard Life and Scottish Widows would create “understandable anxiety” for staff at both firms.

He said: “Whilst these mergers may make good business sense, there is a human cost that the bosses will do well to remember.

“Many employees of both organisations live in my constituency and for staff at Standard Life in particular this is piling uncertainty on uncertainty following the green light for a merger with Aberdeen Asset Management.

“Coupled with Brexit and fluctuations with currency markets it’s a difficult time in the financial services sector.

“I call on both firms to keep compulsory redundancies that may follow as a result of such a merger to an absolute minimum.”

Labour Lothian MSP Daniel Johnson said his first concern at the prospect of any future merger would be job security.

However, he added: “On the other hand it’s also very important that we have financial services companies that are successful and world-leading and in so much as these talks would help with that we have obviously got to take them seriously. I wouldn’t want there to be any job losses.”

More than 95 per cent of investors at Aberdeen Asset Management and 98 per cent at Standard Life gave their approval for a merger at yesterday’s meeting.

Completion of the deal is expected by mid-August, with the new company to take the name Standard Life Aberdeen.

Sir Gerry said: “Our Merger with Aberdeen will be one of the most significant events in our near 200 year history, creating a well-diversified world-class investment company.

“Proudly headquartered in Scotland, and employing some of the best talent in our industry, our new combined company will continue to put our customers and clients across the world at the centre of everything we do.”

florence.snead@jpress.co.uk