Skandia is considering buying or building its own adviser financial planning software, according to Ross Laidlaw, chief executive officer. The group will closely watch industry developments over the next 12 months, Laidlaw told fund managers at a strategy briefing last week.

“How is the front-end [financial planning software] going to work? We’ve already seen Macquarie and the Coin deal,” he said. Laidlaw said that any front-end software the group became involved in would support all platforms not just Skandia’s. Absolute return funds are also on the agenda for the next year and Skandia plans to add nine or 10 funds, including three fund-of-funds to its current 86. “We’re looking at the absolute return space…We’re very selective in this area,” Will Burkitt, head of investment research, said The group is yet to be convinced of adding a fund-of-hedge funds to its offering due to the extra layer of fees but is looking at some single manager funds. Laidlaw was optimistic that the Old Mutual bid for its parent Skandia would have little impact on Australian operations if it was successful. Last week Old Mutual lowered its target to only 50 per cent of Skandia’s shares, down from its original intention to secure 90 per cent of the Swedish financial services business. Mid last month the South African insurance firm also extended the deadline for shareholders to decide on its hostile takeover bid for Skandia until December 16, 2005. The bid values Skandia at about $US5.5 billion. Old Mutual made an initial bid in early September which was rejected by Skandia later that month on the basis it undervalued the group. “It’s business as usual for us. We’ll inform people as we know more about this,” Laidlaw said.

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