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Aberdeen Asset deputy in £5.4m shares payout

ABERDEEN Asset Management's veteran deputy chief executive Andrew Laing has enjoyed a £5.4  million payday as he became the latest senior figure at the acquisitive fund manager to cash in stock.

Chief executive Martin Gilbert, chief investment officer Anne Richards and Asia chief Hugh Young are among those who have previously harvested the proceeds for a strong run in Aberdeen's shares,which were given a fillip by its recent deal to buy Scottish Widows Investment Partnership.

Meanwhile, Aberdeen has changed the leadership of its American business with the recruitment of David Steyn from rival asset manager AllianceBernstein to enable Gary Marshall, who has run it for four years, to return to the UK.

Aberdeen told the stock market that Mr Laing, who has been with the company since 1986, had sold nearly 1.2 million shares in the fund manager.

He sold 569,750 shares at 455p each, netting £2.6m. Another 604,211 shares were sold at 456.9p, bringing in £2.8m. Both sales took place on December 16, Aberdeen said.

A spokesman said the sale was undertaken to diversify his portfolio.

The batch of 604,211 shares represented an element of Mr Laing's annual bonuses for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 which had been deferred.

The divestments leave Mr Laing with 42,680 shares with a market value of around £197,000. He has an unconditional entitlement to a further 273,301 shares from bonuses in previous years. A further 358,831 shares could vest up to 2017.

The sale comes after an extremely strong period for Aberdeen's shares, which have risen almost 30% in the past year, despite a dip in the past week.

A number of Aberdeen executives have taken advantage of the run which continued even after it agreed the £660m purchase of Scottish Widows Investment Partnership from Lloyds Banking Group last month. Mr Gilbert netted £8.6m earlier this month after selling the bulk of his stake in the fund manager he co-founded 30 years ago. He retains conditional and unconditional rights to shares with a paper value of £26m.

Mr Laing is the relatively low profile deputy chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, a role he has held since 2008, and is a director of other group subsidiary companies.

He joined Aberdeen in 1986, three years after it was formed, to manage Aberdeen Development Capital, the company's private equity vehicle.

He has served as Aberdeen's chief operating officer and has been managing director of its property arm. He initially joined the board in 1987 and then again in 2004. Previously, he worked for Hodgson Martin in the private equity sector.

His background is as a commercial lawyer, having taken degrees in politics and international relations and in law at Aberdeen University.

Aberdeen also announced that, after four years running Aberdeen's business in the Americas, Gary Marshall will return to the UK "where he will continue to play a key role in the development of the business of the group".

Mr Steyn is joining Aberdeen in January as head of Americas where he will inherit a business with £46 billion in client assets and 280 employees based in Philadelphia, New York, Toronto, Miami and Sao Paulo.

Mr Gilbert said: "The Americas business has matured and flourished under Gary's able leadership. I am pleased that we have found a successor of David's calibre to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our existing clients, which will allow us to develop further in this strategically important market."

Mr Steyn has US distribution experience and has worked on both sides of the Atlantic for Quaestor, Lazard and Montagu.

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