The Business On... Martin Gilbert, Chief executive, Aberdeen AM

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The Independent Online

He hasn't done badly for a 'sophisticated snake-oil salesman'

Yes, Aberdeen Asset Management has had a vintage year, growing profits by 147 per cent to £210m. It's quite a turnaround from the split-capital investment-trust scandal in the early Noughties.



That would be the source of the comment, then

Indeed it would. Mr Gilbert took a beating from the Commons Treasury Select Committee and at one point it looked as if his company was teetering on the edge. The collapse of split trusts – which many people bought as "low risk" – badly damaged Aberdeen but its revival has been nothing short of spectacular.



Did he deserve all the flak?

Well he was the boss of the company, but Chris Fishwick, who headed the splits business, deserved much of the opprobrium and he is long gone. When the dust had settled, Mr Gilbert refocused the business, did some clever deals and spotted the opportunities presented by Asia. And it has worked spectacularly well.



We shouldn't be surprised by that, given his background

No, Mr Gilbert is a Scot but he was born in Malaysia and shuttled back and forth between his parents' home and boarding school in Scotland at the age of nine, no small feat given that it was a 24-hour trip back then.



So he'll be after more deals then?

Well, no. Mr Gilbert has all but ruled Aberdeen out of a bid for the main deal on the block at the moment, namely Gartmore. Its "star culture" wouldn't fit well with Aberdeen which prefers a more collegial atmosphere along the lines of a Jupiter or a Henderson. Which is a shame really, because Gartmore could really use a turn-around merchant of Mr Gilbert's skill.



Slowing down then?

Don't you believe it. Mr Gilbert enjoys sailing, skiing and golf (he plays off a handicap of 10) but isn't likely to be spending extra time on the course or his boat anytime soon. He built the business up from almost nothing and will not likely sit back if the right deal does come along.

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