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Aberdeen to float property arm

Aberdeen Asset Management is to float its property management division and has cut the size of its board of directors by almost half.

Aberdeen Property Investors represents 26 per cent of the overall group&#39s assets under management, with earnings in the year to September 30 reaching £10m.

The company at the centre of the split-cap investment trust crisis has cut the number of board directors from 19 to 11. Only chief executive Martin Gilbert and finance director Bill Rattray will sit on both the board and the committee.

It has created a new executive management committee which will assume responsibility for the day-to-day running of the retail asset management business.

Chief investment officer Katherine Garrett-Cox has stepped down from the board but will join the new committee, along with chief operating officer Andrew Laing, and executive directors Gary Marshall, Bev Hendry and Hugh Young.

API chief executive Iain Reid is leaving the board and will not join the committee.

The property division, which will be floated in spring 2003, manages property valued at £6bn in the UK, continental Europe and the Nordic region.

Analysts estimates value the division at between £70m and £120m and Aberdeen plans to retain a significant proportion of the shares.

Aberdeen Property Investors chief executive Iain Reid says: “API, with the support of Aberdeen, has quadrupled in size over the past two years. To continue to grow while meeting fully the expectations and requirements of our clients, flotation is clearly the natural next step.”

Bestinvest deputy managing director Jason Hollands says: “These are sensible moves. They have to clear some of their debts and the property arm is a profitable part of the business. When your back is against the wall you have to take some difficult decisions. Streamlining the board is a move that should be welcomed.”

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