At last shareholders have the Old Mutual they hoped to own when it demutualised nearly 20 years ago. The Old Mutual that moved its primary listing from London to Johannesburg on June 26 is a dominant, highly cash-generative business in SA and several other African markets, such as Namibia and Zimbabwe. In the six months to June it generated free surplus (the equivalent of free cash flow in a life business) of R3.47bn, or 62% of headline earnings. CEO Peter Moyo says he is particularly pleased with the result in the rest of Africa, where earnings are up 30% to R478m. There should be plenty of room for growth, as this amount represents less than 10% of operating profit, while at Standard Bank the Africa regions make up a third of earnings.

But Old Mutual will certainly tread softly, as it is unlikely that its shareholders trust it enough to do a transformative deal on the lines of Sanlam’s buyout of Morocco-based Saham Finances. Of course, it might not need such a deal if it can...

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