Alexander Forbes sells stake in Swiss unit

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Johannesburg - Alexander Forbes Ltd., Africa’s largest independent retirement-fund administrator, said it sold its 60 percent stake in the Swiss unit of Lane Clark & Peacock to management for an undisclosed sum at the end of last year.

Alex Forbes bought the Swiss business for about $22 million in 2004 and merged it with UK-based actuarial adviser LCP, which it acquired two years earlier.

Alex Forbes would consider offers for the remaining LCP operations in England, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands as the company prepares for an initial public offering in the second half of this year, said chief executive Edward Kieswetter.

“We spoke to the managers and said the exit is coming and if they think there’s an opportunity to buy the stake and it makes sense to us, we’ll consider an offer,” Kieswetter said in an interview in Johannesburg on January 20.

No more offers have been received, he said.

Alex Forbes, acquired in an 8.2 billion rand ($756 million) buyout led by Actis LLP in 2007, has been selling assets before the IPO in Johannesburg.

Kieswetter, who became chief executive in 2010, has overseen the sale of three UK operations and South African insurance unit Guardrisk, which was sold to MMI Holdings Ltd. in November for 1.6 billion rand.

Alex Forbes hired Deutsche Bank AG and Rand Merchant Bank last year to advise on its planned IPO.

 

Engaging Investors

 

“During the last quarter we began to engage with potential investors from institutions to strategic investors,” Kieswetter said, adding that the company wouldn’t rule out a trade buyer.

“There’s been a balance of foreign and local interest. There aren’t offers on the table, they were coming to chat and we’re simply communicating.”

Since Alex Forbes first said last June that it may return to the stock exchange, the company’s preference shares, representing a quarter of its market capitalisation, have climbed 29 percent, giving the group a total value of more than 17 billion rand. - Bloomberg News


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