INTERVIEW-Old Mutual may sell China, Latam businesses in break-up

* Emerging market business to focus on Africa

* Trade buyer could buy Old Mutual Global Investors

* Keeping relationship with accountants KPMG under review

LONDON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Old Mutual may sell subsidiaries in China, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay as part of its planned break-up, the chief executive of the financial services group said on Thursday.

Anglo-South African Old Mutual is looking at industry as well as private equity buyers for British asset manager Old Mutual Global Investors, Bruce Hemphill told Reuters.

Old Mutual, which gets the majority of its revenues from South Africa but is primarily regulated in Britain, is splitting in four because it is complex and expensive to run, he said.

Emerging market investors may be prevented by their mandates from buying Old Mutual because of its UK and U.S. businesses, while the company’s disparate make-up dims its appeal to active investors in developed markets.

“With conglomerates of this size, you tend to end up with a level of mediocrity which creeps in,” Hemphill said, adding that the company’s share price had been rangebound in recent years.

The $13 billion FTSE 100 company, which also has a Johannesburg listing, has said it will list UK wealth manager Old Mutual Wealth in London and Johannesburg by the end of 2018.

It will also dual-list Old Mutual Limited (OML), a new holding company which includes its emerging markets division, its majority stake in South Africa’s Nedbank and Old Mutual plc.

Old Mutual sold its Indian joint venture stake to Kotak Mahindra Bank for 156 million pounds ($205 million) earlier this year, and its stake in a Chinese joint venture with Guodian Corp is also on the block, Reuters reported in April.

Hemphill said sales of its Chinese venture and Latin American businesses were likely.

“The idea is to be focused on Africa,” Hemphill said, adding that while Old Mutual was willing to sell them, it was not a “forced seller” of the relatively small businesses.

Old Mutual’s Asia and Latin America division posted adjusted operating profit of 22 million pounds in 2016, while the group’s adjusted operating profit was 928 million pounds.

Potential buyers of Old Mutual Global Investors (OMGI), run by veteran British investor Richard Buxton, had until the end of last week to submit tentative bids for the business, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Old Mutual is aiming for a price tag of at least 500 million pounds, one source told Reuters, while another said it had attracted bids from private equity firms including TA Associates and Hellman & Friedman.

Hemphill declined to comment on the details, but said it was looking at all options and there may also be industry buyers.

Within a few months of joining Old Mutual as CEO in 2015, Hemphill announced the break-up, which will leave him without a job but could land him a maximum bonus of 1,000 percent of his 2016 base salary of 900,000 pounds.


Old Mutual has yet to decide whether or not to continue using KPMG as its auditor, Hemphill said.

The African arm of Germany’s Munich Re this week dropped KPMG, the latest company to distance itself from the accountancy firm entangled in a scandal involving friends of South African President Jacob Zuma.

“It’s deeply concerning what is emerging,” Hemphill said, adding Old Mutual had expressed its concerns to “the highest level” of KPMG management.

Old Mutual would keep its relationship with KPMG under review until KPMG completes its internal investigation, he said. ($1 = 0.7610 pounds) (Editing by Alexander Smith)