Standard Life Aberdeen Goes Through With Ridiculed Renaming
(Bloomberg) -- Standard Life Aberdeen Plc’s new name may not have won broad acclaim, but at least it’s easier to Google.
The U.K. asset manager is now officially known as abrdn plc, all lower case and pronounced “Aberdeen”. The April announcement of the coming change unleashed a raft of mockery on Twitter, but Chief Executive Officer Stephen Bird said Monday the shortened name makes it easier for people to search for the company online, as well as avoiding copyright issues.
“Aberdeen is a city in the north of Scotland, it is also a football club, it is also a university,” Bird said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Monday. “abrdn is a unique ownable asset.”
The company’s ticker will also change to ABDN from SLA. The new name symbolizes “clarity of focus, renewed sense of purpose and drive for sustainable growth,” the company said in a statement on Monday. The asset manager will rebrand its various units under the new name in the coming months.
The move comes as Bird, a former Citigroup Inc. banker, tries to steer the firm away from a period of stagnant growth after its formation via a mega merger four years ago. The share price has dropped about 40% since the deal was announced and the company has steadily bled assets under management, a key driver of income.
The company reported almost 535 billion pounds ($740 billion) of assets under management and administration at the end of December, down from about 655 billion pounds as of the end of December 2017, according to company filings.
Since being hired for the top job in September, Bird has rejigged his senior team and outlined plans to build a stable of passive products. He’s said that could eventually account for as much as 30% of assets at the active-biased manager. Bird also wants to expand in Asia, invest more in private markets and to leverage a gap in the U.K. advice market.
“The U.K. is a compelling opportunity” and the firm will soon release new versions of financial advice platforms, he said in the interview.
The company hired consultancy Wolff Olins for its rebranding, according to an abrdn spokesperson, who declined to disclose how much the firm paid for it.
The combination of Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life in 2017 was intended to boost scale, allowing the firm to compete where low-fee passive rivals have seized an increasing portion of market share. Some of the expected payoffs from the merger proved illusive as the firm struggled to handle the dynamic of two co-CEOs, multiple brands and hundreds of funds.
The asset manager “is at a turning point, almost four years after its fruitless merger,” Sarah Jane Mahmud, senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, wrote last month. Bird’s strategic plans may brighten the outlook, she said.
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