Old Mutual, which traces its roots back to the mid-19th as South Africa’s first mutual aid society with 166 members, has already sold its US asset management business and separately listed its UK wealth arm, renamed Quilter, yesterday.
The break-up is part of a growing global trend for conglomerates to hive off bits of their businesses, sometimes in response to pressure from activist investors.
General Electric said earlier today it would spin out its healthcare business and sell its stake in oil firm Baker Hughes, leaving the US company focused on jet engines, power plants and renewable energy.
“The nice thing about this Old Mutual break up is that you now have a vehicle that’s purely emerging market, if you want to buy that, and another vehicle that’s purely UK,” Michael Treherne, a portfolio manager at Vestact, said.
Later this year, Old Mutual’s African business will spin off part of its 53 percent interest in South Africa’s fourth largest lender, Nedbank.
Old Mutual, which will retain a roughly 20 percent stake in Nedbank, bought into the bank in 1986 when it was forced by apartheid South Africa’s strict capital controls into being a major shareholder in several local companies.
The company’s head office in London will be wound down this year. It has been cutting staff in London since it first announced the demerger two years ago. Staff numbers in London are expected to fall to around 40 this year from 120, Old Mutual has said. –The Source