Standard Life International could help Phoenix’s expansion in Europe
London-listed insurance group Phoenix Group could use its Standard Life International operation in the Republic to expand in Europe, after deciding not to sell the business.
Phoenix had planned to sell both Standard Life International and Ark Life, which it also owned, but only a deal for Ark Life was finalized, with Irish Life agreeing last month to buy out the manager of the pension policies, from savings and protection for 230 million euros. Irish Life’s Canadian parent company, Great-West LifeCo, was for some time also supposed to take control of Standard Life International.
Phoenix boss Andy Briggs confirmed on Wednesday that Phoenix will now retain Standard Life International, which operates in Germany as well as the Republic, after a review, and could use it as a base for its expansion in Europe.
Phoenix bought the life insurance arm of Standard Life Aberdeen for 3.24 billion pounds sterling (3.73 billion euros) in 2018, a year after the latter was founded via a merger to form one of the largest major asset managers in the world.
Phoenix has transferred billions of euros in policies from its Standard Life Assurance unit in the UK to Standard Life International in Dublin so that it can continue to serve clients in the European Union after Brexit.
Standard Life International’s assets under management grew from € 6.85 billion to € 28.8 billion in 2019, mainly due to the transfer, according to its latest set of accounts filed with the Companies Registration Office . It thus created the second largest life insurance company in the Republic, after Irish Life.
Mr Briggs said on Wednesday the group was looking to expand its business but was in no rush to make any acquisitions. He was speaking after the life insurer missed first-half earnings guidance.
Phoenix specializes in purchasing closed life insurance portfolios for new clients and using economies of scale to manage them more effectively.
However, after purchasing the Standard Life brand from abrdn, formerly Standard Life Aberdeen, in February, Phoenix will also be looking to expand its open books, chief executive Mr Briggs said.
“We would consider larger or smaller companies, we would consider open or closed books,” he said.
Phoenix’s first half operating profit rose 46% to £ 527million, below £ 539million in a consensus poll compiled by the company. – Additional reports: Reuters