oa Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences - Mutuality and regulation : the transition from mutual to public in the South African long-term insurance industry
The mutual structure of various financial institutions has changed internationally, especially during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Various explanations have been offered. Some commentators argue the mutual organisational form has become redundant, others consider structural changes in the financial services industry as the main reason for organisational changes. In the United Kingdom the stronger emphasis on profitability had a profound impact on the decision to demutualise many building societies. In the USA the failure of mutual savings and loan associations resulted in demutualisation as a rescue strategy. This paper will explore the specific circumstances in South Africa of the changes in the mutual organisational form of building societies and insurance companies. The mutual form of organisation has a long history in South Africa. This paper will explore the reasons for the early choice of mutuality and the recent forces leading to the demutualisation of companies in order to list as public entities on stock exchanges, both in South Africa and abroad. South Africa experienced varying degrees of international isolation and sanctions, but, in the financial services industry, a strong international connection was sustained. The South African experience will be considered against the international changes in the financial services industry as well as the regulatory changes in South Africa. The paper will explain the peculiar South African conditions as the context for the organisational changes in South African mutual.
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