Banker who broke up with spouse after giving her £80m wins again £20m

  • Sheep farming tycoon Clive Standish, 70, is battling ex-wife Anna, 55, over £80m

A super-rich banker who gave his wife £80million to get around inheritance tax, but split before they could put the money in a trust for their children, won back £20million of her divorce payout after beating her in court.

Clive Standish, 69, a sheep-farming tycoon and former CFO of UBS, married Anna Standish, 55, in December 2005, but the couple separated in 2020 after a 15-year marriage during which they had two children.

The marital assets at the time of the split were an enormous £132m, almost all of which had grown from the £57.3m fortune that Mr Standish brought into the marriage. 

After months in court, the Court of Appeal has ruled that a ‘fair outcome’ would leave Anna Standish, 55, with £25million, revised down from £45million, after nearly six months debating the division with her former partner.

At court in December, Mr Justice Moor ruled that husband should get £87.6m of the total family wealth of £132,648,326, with the wife to walk away with £45m.

Mrs Standish had argued that £80million in assets transferred to her to avoid a potential 40 per cent tax levy was ‘matrimonial’ money to be divided, despite her having brought ‘no significant wealth’ of her own into the marriage.

Mr Standish, a sheep-farming tycoon and former CFO of UBS, had transferred the assets to his then-wife after HMRC announced changes to the tax regime in 2016, with a plan being put in place for them to eventually be placed in an offshore trust for the benefit of their children. 

But the marriage hit the rocks before that could happen, leaving the couple estranged and Mrs Standish claiming the £80m was hers outright, having been ‘gifted’ to her.  

Multi-millionaire banker turned sheep farmer Clive Standish (pictured), 70, is locked in a divorce battle with his ex-wife over the £132million family fortune - after handing her £80m during a failed tax avoidance bid

Multi-millionaire banker turned sheep farmer Clive Standish (pictured), 70, is locked in a divorce battle with his ex-wife over the £132million family fortune – after handing her £80m during a failed tax avoidance bid

Anna Standish (front left) with celebrity divorce lawyer Fiona Shackleton (front right) outside the Appeal Court in London, undated

In the appeal ruling, top judges Lady Justice King, Lord Justice Moylan and Lord Justice Phillips have left the door open for Ms Standish, who married Clive in December 2005 before separating in 2020, to fight again to get her payout increased.

They backed arguments made by lawyers for the husband, who said the division was unfair as he brought nearly all the wealth into the marriage and did not intend the £80million to be a ‘gift’ to his wife.

But Lord Justice Moylan said that a proper assessment of the wife’s reasonable ‘needs’ to maintain the lifestyle she is accustomed to had never been carried out and ordered another hearing for that to take place, giving her a second chance at a bigger share.

Tim Bishop KC, for the husband, had told the Appeal Court that the husband had ‘a very successful career in banking.’

He told the judges that in June 2004 the husband was worth £57.3m, whilst the wife ‘has no significant pre-marital wealth’.

Mr Standish is British, but moved to Australia in 1976, before moving back to England with his family in 2010.

He had retired in 2007, living off the profits of a £28m sheep farm in Australia, while the couple enjoyed life in 18-bedroom mansion Moundsmere Manor, set in 83 acres near the Hampshire village of Preston Candover, on the site of an original manor once owned by Henry VIII. 

This situation left him open to a potentially huge inheritance tax hit when prospective changes were announced in 2016, affecting anyone with a British domicile of origin returning to the UK from a country they had made their new permanent home.

In the face of this, he ‘commenced a process to shield his property from IHT’ by ‘transferring his assets to the wife to hold for a period and for the wife then to settle the transferred assets into a trust’.

‘The husband made the transfers in March 2017, but the wife failed to transfer the assets into trust by the time the marriage ran into problems in 2019 and then broke down finally in 2020,’ the barrister said.

Criticising the divorce judge’s eventual division of the assets last December as ‘unfair,’ the husband’s barrister argued it had been wrong for the £80m to have been regarded as ‘matrimonialised’ property, rather than the personal property of the husband and not to go into the pot for division.

‘The judge confused the assessment of what had happened to the title of the assets with the assessment of whether it was fair to treat them as matrimonial,’ he argued, going on to urge the court to cut the wife’s share to between £25m and £29m.

For Mrs Standish, Richard Todd KC argued that the £80m was the wife’s property and everything else apart from the sheep farm ought to be equally split, leaving each of the former spouses with £56.3m.

But the Appeal Court dismissed the wife’s appeal and allowed the husband’s.

Lord Justice Moylan said: ‘The wife appeals and the husband cross-appeals from the financial remedy order. They disagree as to what makes an asset matrimonial or non-matrimonial property.

‘In my view, it is clearly established that, in the application of the sharing principle, the source of an asset is the critical factor and not title.

Moundsmere Manor in Hampshire, home of Clive Standish

Moundsmere Manor in Hampshire, home of Clive Standish

‘I conclude, therefore, that the transfer of the 2017 assets into the wife’s sole name did not change their characterisation. This did not transform them into matrimonial property.

‘The sharing principle is founded or based on each party, in accordance with the objectives of fairness, equality and nondiscrimination, being entitled to an equal share of their matrimonial property, namely the ‘fruits of the partnership’ or the wealth built up by the parties’ endeavours during the marriage.

‘The judge’s application of the sharing principle was flawed and has resulted in an unjustified division of the family’s wealth in the wife’s favour.

‘In my view…a fair application of the sharing principle would have resulted in the wife receiving/retaining wealth of approximately £25 million in place of the judge’s award of £45 million.’

However he went on to remit the case back to the High Court Family Division for an assessment of the wife’s ‘needs’ to be carried out, commenting: ‘A judge may well decide that the wife’s needs could be met by a sum in the region of £25 million…but they might not.’