After decades of living together but apart, Standard Bank and Liberty are set to move in with each other, with Standard making a R10.8bn offer to buy out the 46% of Liberty it does not already own in a deal that will create a more closely integrated banking, life insurance and asset management group.The deal has been driven in part by the way the Covid pandemic has catapulted digital transformation over the past 18 months, said Liberty CEO David Munro, who described the deal as a natural progression in his group's strategy. Standard CEO Sim Tshabalala said the integration would create a financial services powerhouse in Africa and enhance the group's ability to meet clients' financial needs.The move, which would cement the group's long-standing "bancassurance" relationship, goes somewhat against the industry trend in SA, where Old Mutual unbundled its controlling stake in Nedbank in 2018 and FirstRand spun out its stake in life assurer MMI more than a decade ago. But one of SA's...

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