Aberdeen seeks tie-up with U.S. funds firm

MONACO, France Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:12pm BST

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MONACO, France (Reuters) - Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, is seeking to partner with a domestic U.S. funds firm with a large retail distribution network and is open to giving a stake in Aberdeen in return.

Speaking to Reuters at the Fund Forum industry summit in Monaco, Gilbert reiterated he was no longer looking to take over a U.S. fund manager but wanted to repeat the kind of deal that has paid off for Aberdeen in Japan, where Mitsubishi UFJ took a 17 percent stake in the company.

The aim is to bring Aberdeen's global equity, property and bond products to U.S. investors. "We are very open as to how we do this," said Gilbert, adding that this might mean granting a stake in Aberdeen to a strategic partner, but there was nothing on the horizon.

Gilbert ruled out further acquisitions for the time being, saying the firm was going through a period of consolidation. He told Reuters Insider that he sees full year profits at the upper end of current analysts' expectations and that outflows from the fixed income business have begun to slow.

The acquisition of Royal Bank of Scotland's (RBS.L) asset management businesses earlier this year brought to an end Aberdeen's search for a hedge funds business as this included a fund of hedge funds unit.

Gilbert said he thought there was scope to grow this business as it had been acquired near the bottom of the cycle when it wasn't earning any performance fees.

However, because of the scrutiny of hedge fund fees and pressure on the charging model, he accepted that margins would probably have to narrow. "But we don't have a problem with that concept."

Gilbert also ruled out a share buy-back this financial year, as he said the priority was paying down debt, which should be completed by the end of the financial year. After that, he said it would depend on future profitability.

"If the profits remain as good as they have been we could buy back shares but we need to build up our regulatory capital and dividends are also a priority."

(Editing by Sinead Cruise and Simon Jessop)

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