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For sale: Nedbank still on the block

Nedbank’s owners are still looking for a buyer, after the failure of a deal for HSBC to buy the South African bank last year.

It appears that South African insurers Old Mutual are continuing to invite offers. Mike Brown, Nedbank’s chairman, says: "Old Mutual has said that if it could find an owner for Nedbank that could add more value to Nedbank, and South Africa, it would enter into discussions again. Old Mutual has consistently said that Nedbank is a very valued member of the Old Mutual group, but if there was an owner for Nedbank that was better for all stakeholders, then it would be prepared to discuss with whoever that may be."

There has been no rush of potential bidders since HSBC made its surprise withdrawal, leaving a trail of disappointment. Rumour was widespread that HSBC had found something amiss in the course of its due diligence of Nedbank. But HSBC never confirmed this, and Nedbank has appeared to gather strength in the past year. Brown says it is the only South African bank whose share price has risen over the past year. The bank has also improved its domestic loan book.

So what was the cause of HSBC’s in-and-out exercise? Brown believes that the larger bank did not want to take extra risk on to its balance sheet by adding a sizable portfolio at a time when the regulation of banking capital was unclear.

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