Absa’s announcement this week that it has substantially and successfully completed its separation from former parent Barclays, on time and on budget, was a major milestone — one that should yield benefits in new skills, new energy and new systems that go well beyond the separation itself.

But it was a milestone too for a banking sector that over the past four years has been transforming its ownership structure, with unbundlings and separations — driven by the need to unlock value for shareholders and/or keep regulators happy — at five of SA’s big six banking groups...

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