Standard Bank takes full control of Liberty

Johannesburg – Banking giant Standard Bank’s offer to buy 100% of financial services and property holding company, Liberty Holdings, has jumped the final hurdle after the Competition Tribunal on Friday gave the deal the green light.

Standard Bank Group (SBG), which already owns 54% of Liberty, in July announced its plan to take full control of Liberty and integrate it into the greater group.

“The tribunal has unconditionally approved the merger between Standard Bank Group Limited and Liberty Holdings Limited,” the watchdog said.

Standard Bank group CEO Sim Tshabalala said the integration of Liberty into SBG enhanced its ability to meet clients’ financial needs.

“This transaction creates significant opportunities for capital efficiencies and to grow the united group by providing a fully integrated set of client offerings throughout SBG’s operations across Africa.

“We are creating a more united group that will bring our banking, insurance and asset management businesses much closer together to create something really special. This will be a whole that will be much greater than the sum of its parts”.

Liberty is also a significant player in the commercial property space through its Liberty Two Degrees unit. The unit holds about a third of Liberty’s property portfolio, including Sandton City.

Liberty Group CEO David Munro said the transaction was a strong vote of confidence by SBG in the strength of Liberty’s business, its client franchise, and very importantly its adviser networks and teams of people.

Liberty’s David Munro.

“SBG’s banking, private client asset management and short-term insurance capabilities will complement Liberty’s strength in long-term insurance and asset management, enhancing the competitive position of Liberty’s offerings while facilitating the creation of a united and formidable competitor in financial services in Africa, at scale.”

Liberty shareholders in October voted in favour of the SBG buyout, paving the way for the deal to proceed.

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