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Abrdn sells 4% stake in insurer Phoenix Group for £264m

Abrdn will now hold a 10.4% stake in Phoenix. Photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
Abrdn will now hold a 10.4% stake in Phoenix. Photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Abrdn (ABDN.L) has confirmed it has sold a 4% stake in Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX.L) for £264m ($353m) on Friday as it looks to return cash to shareholders.

The company, which is one of Britain’s biggest asset managers, and was formerly known as Standard Life Aberdeen, offloaded 40 million shares in the London-based insurer at 660p per share.

Following the settlement of the placing, expected on 1 February, the Edinburgh-based investment company will hold a 10.4% stake in Phoenix.

The amount shareholders will receive will be announced after the company publishes its results on 1 March.

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

In a separate statement, Phoenix said that, as abrdn's holding remains over 10%, the relationship agreement between the two companies will remain in place. This still entitles abrdn to appoint a director to Phoenix's board.

Phoenix added that abrdn remains the company's "core strategic" asset management partner and continues to manage £165bn of the group's assets under administration.

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Goldman Sachs (GS) acted as sole global coordinator and bookrunner in the placing.

Shares in abrdn were up 0.8% at 240p in London, while shares in Phoenix were down as much as 4% on the back of the news, falling to the bottom of the FTSE 100 (^FTSE).

The news comes as Abrdn has joined forces with Citigroup (C) on how to broaden access to investments in real assets using blockchain technology.

Earlier this week it said it was exploring how it can enable individual investors and institutions to buy “tokens” in buildings, funds and infrastructure assets.

Neil Meikle, its global head of real estate product strategy, said: “Our existing capability set, from a real assets perspective, is really great if you’re an institutional investor and there’s quite traditional ways of accessing real estate.”

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