The investment group Abrdn plunged into the red in the first half of the year, after being hit by market turmoil and the withdrawal of more than £24bn of assets linked to a cancelled deal with Lloyds Banking Group.
Stephen Bird, the chief executive who scrapped the Standard Life Aberdeen brand for a new name last year, said the pre-tax loss of £320m in the six months to June “largely reflected the challenging global economic environment and market turbulence”. The group had reported profits of £113m a year earlier.
Customers also pulled their cash from Abrdn amid worsening market conditions, resulting in total net outflows of nearly £36bn. It contributed to a 6% drop in assets under management to £508bn, compared with £542bn a year earlier.
It also suffered the withdrawal of about £24.4bn worth of funds that it originally secured as part of a deal that pre-dated the merger of Aberdeen with Standard Life in 2017.
Lloyds Banking Group, which owns the insurance and pensions firm Scottish Widows, argued the merger posed a potential conflict of interest with its own business.
The drawn-out battle eventually led to a settlement in 2019, with Lloyds agreeing to withdraw its funds in tranches. Lloyds took out the final portion earlier this year, leaving Abrdn with £7.5bn of Lloyds funds.
“We can draw a line under the episode of Lloyds moving away from us, but they remain a significant customer,” Bird said.
The Edinburgh-headquartered firm also highlighted the performance of investment platform Interactive Investor, which it bought in a £1.5bn deal first announced in December.
“When I became CEO in late 2020 I said that we would pursue a strategy of diversification by refocusing our investments business in to areas of strength, where we have scale … lean into global growth trends and also significantly expand our reach into the higher-growth UK wealth market,” Bird said.
“We are doing exactly that and the addition of Interactive Investor transforms our UK retail presence and future revenue streams. The strength of our balance sheet means that we can continue to invest and reward shareholders.”
Shares in Abrdn were down 5.5% in afternoon trading, having plunged as much as 10% earlier in the day.
Meanwhile, the German investment bank Berenberg reportedly told staff it was cutting about 30 of its 500 London employees, making it one of the first investment banks to shed jobs amid the grim economic outlook.
It comes after the Bank of England said it was expecting inflation to push past 13%, triggering a recession lasting more than a year.