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Old Mutual to invest in Nigerian real estate, agriculture

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

ABUJA (Reuters) – Anglo-South African financial services firm Old Mutual and Nigeria’s sovereign wealth fund on Friday signed agreements to set up two funds to invest in real estate and agriculture in Africa’s most populous nation.

Old Mutual and Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) said they would jointly raise a $500 million fund to invest in real estate and another $200 million to spend on agriculture projects in Nigeria.

The West African nation is in the middle of its worst crisis in decades as a slump in oil revenues hammers public finances and the naira. Gross domestic product shrank in the first quarter and the central bank governor has said a recession is likely.

Chief executive of NSIA, Uche Orji, said both parties will each commit $100 million as initial commitment for the real estate fund and $50 million for the agriculture fund.

“We are looking at office towers, commercial real estate,” Orji said. “We are investing equity in agriculture. We are looking at farming with emphasis on export.”

Poor infrastructure and access to capital is a major bottleneck to growth in Nigeria, which has made diversifying its revenue base and reducing a huge import bill its top priority.

“The most important thing is infrastructure. The problem is that its cheaper to move goods from China to Lagos, than move it from Kano to Lagos and that’s because we don’t have the infrastructure,” Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said.

Nigeria established the Sovereign Investment Authority (SIA) in 2011 with $1 billion of seed capital in an effort to manage oil export revenues.

The new funds, which will stay invested for up to 12-years, will target returns of around 20 percent, Hywel George, chief investment officer at Old Mutual said.

A successful real estate investment in Nigeria can earn an returns as high as 30-35 percent, while rental income yields in cities such as Lagos and Abuja can easily reach 10 percent, developers and estate agents say.

However, navigating through opaque land laws, corruption, a lack of development expertise and financing, a dearth of mortgages and high building costs will take courage and influential local partners.


(By Chijioke Ohuocha. Editing by Ulf Laessing and William Hardy)


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Old Mutual says could dual-list wealth, emerging markets units

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – Old Mutual said on Tuesday its preferred option after splitting into four would be to have two of the new companies listed on both the London and Johannesburg stock exchanges.

The Anglo-South African company expects to complete its restructuring by the end of 2018.

The changes include carving out its emerging markets operations to create a new South African holding company and a company that would mainly comprise the group’s wealth operations.

Chief Executive Bruce Hemphill said the firm had also received approaches for its businesses from industry and private equity players.

“We are still going through a process,” he told Reuters by phone. “We have settled on a preferred route, (but) that does not preclude the possibility of someone coming along with an offer.”

Old Mutual Wealth was valued by analysts earlier in the year at 3-4 billion pounds ($4.01-$5.35 billion).

Hemphill said despite recent market fluctuations following last week’s referendum vote for Britain to leave the European Union, Britain was still a “sure bet” in the longer term.

He declined to comment on the sale of Old Mutual Wealth’s Italian unit, which has attracted four private equity bidders in its final stages, sources told Reuters last week.

But he said Old Mutual was going through a process of “cleaning up” the Italian wealth business.

The firm said it plans to distribute a “significant proportion” of its stake in Nedbank Group Ltd to the shareholders of the new South African holding company.

The FTSE 100-listed company also said it plans to continue cutting its 65.8 percent stake in U.S. asset management firm OMAM.

Old Mutual said it faces headwinds from weakness in the South African rand and from lower equity markets, but said gross sales in the year had been strong.

Old Mutual shares were up 4.6 percent to 186.3 pence at 0826 GMT in line with a bounce in financial stocks following a severe sell-off this week.

Old Mutual will hold its annual general meeting on Wednesday, along with an extraordinary general meeting where shareholders will vote on Hemphill’s proposed 1,000 percent bonus.

($1 = 0.7483 pounds)


(By Noor Zainab Hussain and Carolyn Cohn. Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; editing by Sunil Nair and Jason Neely)

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Old Mutual says to split up, asset management sale eyed

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – Anglo-South African financial services group Old Mutual Plc said on Friday it would split up into its four main businesses, strengthening expectations of the sale or listing of its UK asset management arm.

The break-up of the company, which is listed in London and Johannesburg and has insurance, asset management and banking operations, follows a strategic review announced in November, when former Standard Bank executive Bruce Hemphill took over as chief executive.

Changes to the regulatory environment in Europe and South Africa have made the company, which started out in 1845 as a life insurance firm in Cape Town, more complex to run, it said in a statement.

“It’s a costly structure with insufficient synergies to justify those costs,” Hemphill said.

Old Mutual’s solvency capital ratio under new European rules was 135 percent, lower than many of the other major insurers that have reported earnings so far this year.

The group said it had not yet decided how it would go about spinning off the units but that it expected the separation to be largely completed by the end of 2018.

The company’s four units are Old Mutual Emerging Markets, Old Mutual Wealth, Nedbank Group and OM Asset Management.

It said it planned to cut its majority stake in Nedbank to a minority one.

Old Mutual’s shares have risen since Sky News reported the break-up plans last weekend, and said private equity firms had tabled a multi-billion pound cash bid for Old Mutual Wealth.

Analysts said the unit would be worth 3-4 billion pounds.

The group said its pretax adjusted operating profit for 2015 rose 4 percent in reported currency terms to 1.7 billion pounds ($2.4 billion).

($1 = 0.7004 pounds)


(By Carolyn Cohn and Noor Zainab Hussain. Additional reporting by Soumithri Mamidipudi in Bengaluru; Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Mark Potter)


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