It is tempting to see Old Mutual’s almost 20 years of being based in London as a waste. There was certainly enough wasted money. Instead of paying dividends back to shareholders and doing share buybacks, as rival Sanlam did, Old Mutual SA’s dividends were funnelled up to the UK holding company — and for what? It tried its hand at UK stockbroking and futures trading through Gerrard, US life through Fidelity & Guaranty Life and offshore mutual funds through Sage Life in Bermuda. All added red ink to the financials. Old Mutual will have got some change from the US$2bn acquisition of United Asset Management (renamed OMAM US), which at least had good brands such as Barrow Hanley and Acadian. It disposed of this interest after a listing in the US. Its only real success has been the UK portion of its Skandia acquisition, the heart of Quilter Plc, which will soon have a secondary listing on the JSE. Quilter will be a different kind of rand hedge, similar to being able to buy directly into I...

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