Old Mutual: here and there: Superficially, Old Mutual’s first quarter trading update on Thursday shows the London-listed financial services group to be doing fine. Gross sales, most of them from its U.K.-based wealth Manager, were almost a fifth higher at £7.3 billion. Yet Old Mutual — for all its guerrilla-like attack and retreat, expanding into and retracting out of businesses in the U.K., the U.S. and elsewhere — still earns two-thirds of its operating profit in its South African homeland. Giving up the U.K. domicile and listing would not be easy, though. And, depending on the success of outgoing Chief Executive Julian Roberts’ strategy, it could make sense to stay. Since he became Chief in 2008, Mr Roberts has done much of the work needed to solve the stay-or-leave conundrum. He has sold assets acquired in Old Mutual’s foreign forays, including much of Skandia (bar its U.K. wealth Manager) and a U.S. life assurer. He has listed a U.S. asset Manager and cut debt. He has also been on the attack, bolting U.K. investment Manager Quilter Cheviot on to Old Mutual Wealth, and expanding in Africa. Mr Roberts will pass the helm to Bruce Hemphill before the result of his strategy is known. He will, however, leave his successor a potential solution to the conundrum. Assume for a moment that the combined OMW and Quilter Cheviot achieves operating profit of £400 million in two years’ time. Apply, say, a Rathbone Brothers multiple to the prospective after-tax earnings of OWM and it could be worth £5 billion (Old Mutual’s current market capitalisation is £11 billion). If that prompts a re-rating of Old Mutual, pressure to split might subside. If not, it will be a signal that investors do not like either Old Mutual’s emerging market bias or its conglomerate status.
16 Apr '15
Old Mutual’s mixed bag requires a thorough tidy-up: Less tidily, the FTSE 100 group remains a mixed bag of businesses, ranging from a 52% stake in South African bank Nedbank, to a U.K. wealth management company. As a result, shares in Old Mutual trade at an earnings discount of 15-25% to peers. Conglomerate discounts are not inevitable — look at Whitbread and Associated British Foods. But they will occur when earnings have been patchy. Old Mutual toyed with selling its Nedbank stake in 2011. Instead, Mr Roberts bolstered the balance sheet by disposing of Nordic financial services units. Just as well. Nedbank now features in a promising plan to expand bancassurance operations into fast-growing African markets such as Tanzania and Nigeria. Old Mutual should go further. It should demerge or sell its U.K. wealth management business, which comprises financial advice and fund management, and which produced profits of £227 million in 2014. The group’s successful flotation of a U.S. asset Manager last year points the way. A demerger would let investors in London and Johannesburg have as much or as little exposure to each metropolis’s financial sector as they chose. Old Mutual came out of Africa. That is where its future lies.
15 Apr '15
250p Knock Knock
Not long now folks :-)
7 Apr '15
Moving in to join me...lol
30 Mar '15
What will come first £2.50 or a bid, both possible 1st class business.
30 Mar '15
RE: Promising outlook
250 looking pretty easy from here. Still long, bought more on the recent dip.
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