Minority shareholders of JSE-listed insurance and financial services firm Liberty on Wednesday approved the proposal by major shareholder Standard Bank Group (SBG) to buy out their interests and to integrate Liberty fully into the banking giant.
The endorsement was confirmed in a Sens statement and media release following a Liberty general meeting to vote on the proposal earlier in the day.
“This represents a significant milestone towards finalising the proposed transaction, expected in the first quarter of 2022,” the group said.
“The strategic benefits of the transaction remain numerous and compelling,” it added.
“We are delighted that shareholders are supportive of the vision to build the largest financial services provider on the continent that will be best placed to provide insurance and banking products in a more competitive and efficient manner,” SBG CEO Sim Tshabalala said in reaction to securing approval from Liberty minorities.
“We believe this transaction is a natural progression of the long-standing strategic relationship between the Standard Bank Group and Liberty. Furthermore, it increases our ability to provide the best financial service offerings to our clients through the most efficient means,” he added.
Liberty CEO David Munro said that Standard Bank’s banking, private client asset management and short-term insurance capabilities will complement Liberty’s strength in long-term insurance and asset management.
“Clients will benefit from the capital strength of the Standard Bank Group and the access to world-class technology partners and processes, especially during major transition points in their lives,” he reiterated.
While SBG has secured shareholder approval for the deal, the transaction is still subject to approvals from the South African Reserve Bank Prudential Authority, the Competition Commission, and other regulatory bodies.
“Until all the conditions precedent are met, both entities will function separately, on a business-as-usual basis, with minimal client disruption,” it said.
Both Liberty and Standard Bank’s share prices were trading marginally down following the announcement, but the market is expecting the deal to go ahead considering SBG is already a 54% majority shareholder in Liberty.
Once the deal is finalised, Liberty is anticipated to be delisted from the JSE.