STEPHEN CRANSTON: Standard Bank partly to blame for Liberty’s fall from grace
Liberty could finally make a success of the mass market if the lender takes full control
Liberty, once one of the five largest shares on the JSE, could soon be delisted. For years Standard Bank has denied any plans to buy out the minority shareholding in Liberty Holdings. But there was also a time when Old Mutual said it would never list as, in the words of former chair Mike Levett, mutuality was “in our DNA”.
The resignation of Roy Andersen as Liberty CEO in 2003 was a turning point, when Liberty lost its independence. He was replaced by Standard Bank’s leading merchant banker, Myles Ruck. It seems a curiosity now that under Liberty founder Donny Gordon the then Liberty Life was perceived to own the bank, not the other way around. Liberty certainly had a more colourful creative team than the somewhat bland and austere Standard Bank of the 1980s and 1990s. Roy McAlpine, for example, at Liberty Asset Management, was the most high-profile fund manager in SA. Few journalists, let alone members of the public, could name anyone at Standard Bank’s somewhat lacklustre f...