Shareholders in the Old Mutual Group enjoyed a special dividend in the group’s maiden interim results as a stand-alone entity, but if and when it might become a fully fledged bank after the Nedbank unbundling remains a guarded secret. The group announced an interim dividend of 45c a share on Friday together with a special dividend of R1. With the unbundling of Nedbank shares later in 2018, which translates to about R8.01 per Old Mutual share, Old Mutual will have returned R46.8bn to shareholders thus far. Old Mutual will retain a 19.9% stake in Nedbank after the unbundling, a stake Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo described as a "long-term investment".

But with Nedbank soon to be a much smaller feature of the group’s profits, would a banking licence round out the "universal" integrated financial services model the group has adopted? This was an entirely plausible question Moyo would not be drawn on. Some of this is informed by flexibility. Given that the group already lends to client...

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