JOHANNESBURG - Old Mutual Plc returned to its South African roots on Tuesday when it listed its $11 billion African financial services business in Johannesburg, a move which largely completes a major overhaul of the company.
The 173-year old group has been disentangling its conglomerate structure created after a series of acquisitions since it moved its headquarters and primary listing to London in 1999.
Chief Executive Bruce Hemphill set the break-up in motion in 2016, saying the company’s four main businesses — a U.S. asset manager, a British wealth manager, an African financial services division and a South African bank — would achieve higher investor ratings as separate entities.
Old Mutual Plc’s African financial services business, Old Mutual Ltd, listed roughly 5 billion shares on Tuesday. They traded at 29.39 rand each during the session, valuing the company at roughly 145 billion rand ($10.7 billion).
Old Mutual Ltd, now the parent to what is left of Old Mutual plc, will also have a standard listing in London, and secondary listings on the stock exchanges of Malawi, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
Hundreds of Old Mutual Ltd’s employees, blowing green vuzuzelas and beating drums, danced through the streets of Johannesburg ahead of the listing.
“What’s most exciting about our listing as an independent, standalone entity is that it enables us to unlock shareholder value and create a business with a strong strategic focus on sub-Saharan Africa,” Old Mutual Ltd’s chief executive Peter Moyo said.
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 U.S. asset management business and on Monday separately listed its U.K wealth arm, renamed Quilter.
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 on Tuesday it would spin out its healthcare business and sell its stake in oil firm Baker Hughes, leaving the U.S. 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.