Standard Life chief to steer new UK shareholder group

Role follows consultation on Stewardship Code

Keith Skeoch, the chief executive of £139bn (€162bn) asset manager Standard Life Investments, has emerged as a key mover in a new UK institutional shareholder engagement group.
The new Institutional Investor Council has been formed by the Institutional Shareholders Committee (ISC), which comprises the Association of British Insurers, the Association of Investment Companies, the Investment Management Association and the National Association of Pension Funds.
The IIC’s stated aim is to work with the Financial Reporting Council watchdog on the new Stewardship Code for shareholders and “facilitate collective engagement” by institutional investors with companies.
Last month Standard Life wrote to the FRC, as part of a consultation on the code, outlining its desire for a morestrongly worded statement on engagement.
In his capacity as chair of the ISC’s Consultative Committee, Skeoch will take responsibility for delivering the objectives of the new council. Standard Life Investments is part of life insurance group Standard Life, a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment.
Standard Life itself has disclosed that it made fewer engagements with companies in 2009, down to 605 from 2008’s 680. But a new global voting platform saw it vote at 1941 company meetings, up from 730 the previous year.
The ISC now plans to write a constitution for the IIC and elect a chair. The IIC’s first act will be to probe, under the leadership of IMA chairman Douglas Ferrans, the fees paid to the underwriters of rights issues.