Standard Life leads FTSE higher after asset disposal deal

Thu Sep 4, 2014 6:22am EDT
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* FTSE 100 index rises 0.2 pct, trades near 14-year high

* Standard Life surges on deal to sell Canadian assets

* Focus on European Central Bank's policy meeting

By Tricia Wright

LONDON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Britain's top share index edged up on Thursday to trade near a 14-year high, with Standard Life leading gains in insurers and adding the most points to the FTSE 100 after agreeing to sell its Canadian operations.

The UK life insurance index climbed 1 percent, boosted by an 8.5 percent surge in shares of Standard Life following its deal worth about C$4 billion ($3.7 billion) in cash with Manulife Financial Corp.

The companies said they will also expand an existing wealth and asset management partnership, with Manulife distributing Standard Life funds in Canada, the United States and Asia, and Standard Life doing the same in the UK retail market.

"(This) accelerates Standard Life's strategy of asset gathering and asset management and removes a major exposure of the group's balance sheet to spread and guarantee risk," Eamonn Flanagan, analyst at Shore Capital, said.

"The agreement for Manulife to act as distributor for SL's funds should deliver growth in funds, thus accelerating Standard Life's focus as an asset gatherer and manager."   Continued...