File picture: Mike Hutchings

Johannesburg - Old Mutual, the UK-based financial services firm that owns Africa’s largest insurer, said it will split apart its emerging markets, wealth, banking and asset management units to boost growth within each of the different businesses.

Read: Markets cheer Old Mutual talk

Publicly traded US money manager, OM Asset Management, the controlling stake in South African lender Nedbank Group, the insurer’s UK’s wealth business and its emerging-market business run out of South Africa will be broken up by the end of 2018, the company said in a statement on Friday.

Chief Executive Officer Bruce Hemphill started a strategic review of the 171-year old company immediately after his appointment in November as its main South African operations come under pressure amid slowing economic growth and a depreciating local currency that hurts returns when converted into British pounds.

Read: Old Mutual 'reviewing all options'

A break-up makes sense as Old Mutual trades at a discount to the combined value of its different units, which have few synergies between them, Risto Ketola of SBG Securities in Johannesburg said this week.