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* SLA chairman calls for more certainty on Brexit
* Calls merger deal a Brexit hedge
* Expects arbitration with Lloyds to take months
By Elisabeth O’Leary
EDINBURGH, June 25 (Reuters) - The chairman of Britain’s Standard Life Aberdeen said more clarity was needed on Brexit although he believed the government was listening to the voice of business.
“We are now nine months away and we have no further certainty (than a year ago),” Gerry Grimstone said, speaking ahead of a shareholders meeting, adding that important issues like the customs union need to be settled.
The British government and business leaders clashed in a deepening row over Brexit at the weekend after a senior minister accused companies of issuing “completely inappropriate” threats about its potential impact.
SLA, formed via the 11 billion pound ($14.6 billion) merger of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management last year which created one of Britain’s biggest asset managers, would be positioned for a hard Brexit, Grimstone added.
“Global businesses have more scope for opportunities post-Brexit than British businesses,” he said, noting the merger had made SLA a more diverse, global company.
“In that sense, the Aberdeen acquisition was a hedge against Brexit.”
SLA’s Brexit preparations were on track, Grimstone said, adding he expects authorisation for the firm’s new EU hub in Dublin to arrive within the needed time frame. Britain is due to leave the EU next March.
Arbitration between SLA and Lloyd’s Banking Group, its biggest client, over the bank’s decision to pull a 109 billion pound asset management mandate from SLA’s control was likely to take months, and possibly last until the end of this year, Grimstone said. ($1 = 0.7557 pounds) (Reporting by Elisabeth O’Leary; Writing by Emma Rumney Editing by Keith Weir)