Abrdn sells 40m Phoenix shares but keeps board director

Abrdn sells 40m Phoenix shares but keeps board director

Abrdn has sold nearly 40m of its shares in Phoenix Group, bringing its stake in the insurer down to 10.4 per cent.

Crucially, the stake remains in excess of 10 per cent, which means Abrdn keeps the right to appoint a director on the Phoenix board.

The 39,981,442 shares Abrdn sold to institutional investors were priced at 660p per share, meaning the sale raised £264m.

Following the settlement of this placing, which is expected to take place on February 1, net proceeds will be returned to shareholders. The amount shareholders will receive will be announced after the company publishes its results on March 1.

Abrdn is one of Phoenix's asset management partners, looking after around £165bn of the insurer’s assets under administration. This has gone up from the £147.4bn it started overseeing when the partnership began.

Extended to at least 2031 last year, it originally ran to 2028.

"Our strategic partnership with Phoenix remains very important to us,” said Stephen Bird, Abrdn’s chief executive. “This was further evidenced by the simplified and extended relationship we announced in February 2021.”

Bird refered to Abrdn’s sale of the brand 'Standard Life' to Phoenix back in February 2021. This saw a number of employees which worked on the brand transfer to Phoenix, costing Abrdn £32m.

He continued: “We have therefore reconfirmed our commitment to our remaining 10.4 per cent shareholding in Phoenix which retains our right to appoint a director to the Phoenix board.”

Phoenix bought Abrdn’s insurance arm back in August 2018 for £3.24bn which saw the firms enter into a long-term strategic partnership.

Abrdn also paid Phoenix £62.5m to buy its Wrap Sipp, onshore bond and Trustee Investment Plan businesses, adding £36bn in AUM to its balance sheet.

Phoenix's other strategic investor is MS&AD Insurance Group, which holds a 14.5 per cent shareholding to diversify its own earnings. According to Phoenix, the firm intends to remain a significant shareholder.