The blessing of the UK courts, and the regulatory green stamp, is all that stands between Africa’s largest bank by market value, the JSE-listed FirstRand, and popping the champagne cork on its biggest overseas foray — the R20bn takeover of British high-street bank Aldermore. In recent days, more than 95% of Aldermore’s shareholders voted to accept FirstRand’s offer of 313p/share to buy the bank — more than the 75% needed. The next step is that the UK Prudential Regulation Authority, Financial Conduct Authority and the SA Reserve Bank must put their stamps of approval on the scheme. It’s a big deal for FirstRand and will push its overseas profits from 5% to 12% of its total. But some analysts are wary, particularly as it follows a string of disasters from SA-based firms going overseas to "diversify" their profits. The worst such deal was Brait’s takeover of UK high-street retailer New Look for R37bn in 2015. This ended in tears, with Brait writing down the entire business to zero thi...

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