Phoenix Group confirms sale talks

The company, which owns Standard Life Assurance and ReAssure, did not name the other party it was in talks with

London-listed insurer Phoenix Group Holdings has confirmed it is in talks with an unknown buyer about the potential sale of the business.

In a statement regarding press speculation, the insurer said: “The board of Phoenix Group Holdings plc notes the recent press speculation regarding the potential sale of its European businesses and confirms that it is now in advanced discussions in respect of a potential sale.

“A sale of the European businesses will only be considered if it maximises value for shareholders. Discussions are on-going and there can be no certainty that any transaction will be agreed.”

The company, which owns Standard Life Assurance and ReAssure, did not name the other party it was in talks with.

However, the news comes after reports from Sky News that Phoenix was in talks to sell its European arm to European Life Group Holding (ELG) in a £550m deal.

Earlier this year, Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) announced a simplification and extension of its strategic partnership with Phoenix Group Holdings (PGH) until 2031.

The agreement simplified the partnership, focusing on the provision of Standard Life Aberdeen’s “asset management services” to Phoenix Group and its insurance and workplace pension customers.

The partnership with PGH was reportedly expanded when SLA sold its UK and European life insurance business to Phoenix Group in 2018. While the insurance sale allowed SLA to “streamline its own operations”, it also created a “complex network” of commercial and operational services between the groups, including in respect of certain pensions and savings products and the shared use of the “Standard Life” brand.

The two groups have now agreed to simplify these arrangements and strengthen their relationship by extending the “price adjustment mechanism” agreed at the time of the insurance sale which aims at “protecting” SLA in the event of certain types of “asset withdrawals”.

Additionally, SLA agreed to partner with Phoenix Group to “design and provide” investment solutions for Phoenix customers. It will also acquire the TIP business from Phoenix Group to “consolidate its investments| offering for UK pension scheme clients.

Furthermore SLA confirmed it would sell the “Standard Life” brand to Phoenix Group during the course of 2021.

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