Vardospan’s buyout of Habib Overseas Bank’s South African assets has to be approved by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who is involved in a legal dispute with the controversial Gupta family. The transaction passed competitive muster last week, but still has to be signed off by the minister. Vardospan, a joint venture between Cinq Holdings, a company controlled by Salim Essa, a close business associate of the Gupta family and Hamza Farooqui’s Pearl Capital, is proposing to acquire Luxembourg-based Pitcairns Finance’s interest in Habib Overseas Bank’s domestic operations. Kuben Naidoo, deputy governor of the Reserve Bank and the registrar of banks, said on Monday he was considering an application for Habib’s change of ownership. "If a company wants to acquire 15% or more of a bank, they have to get permission from the registrar of banks," he said. "If they seek to acquire more than 49% of a bank, they require the approval of the minister of finance on the advice of the registrar." Go...

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