London-based Old Mutual, South Africa 's largest insurer and an international asset manager, has successfully taken control of Skandia, a Swedish insurer, for $3.7 billion.

Old Mutual CEO Jim Sutcliffe, who had been pursuing a stake in Skandia for months now, announced the hostile takeover yesterday. The deal, which gives Old Mutual a 62.5% stake in Skandia, is considered by many a feather in Sutcliffe's cap. He's been trying to refocus the company going forward after four years of cost-cutting, asset sales and management shake-ups, the International Herald Tribune reported.

"We are focused very much on delivering the benefit we think this combination offers," Sutcliffe said. "The challenge is very much to bring the company together behind that goal."

It's been speculated that the assumption of Skandia, which gets about half of its revenue from Britain , would broaden Old Mutual's international business. Analysts were generally enthusiastic.

"It will be a positive for [Old Mutual] after a lot of time and effort and disruption," said Johnny Vo, an analyst at Fox-Pitt Kelton in London . "They can declare victory. Their first step will be to shore up the confidence of Skandia shareholders."

It's been a rocky ride in recent years for Skandia. It's underwent management shake-ups over bonuses paid to executives and its American unit was caught up in the mutual fund scandal for improper trading.

The staff of Money Management Executive ("MME") has prepared these capsule summaries based on reports published by the news sources to which they are attributed. Those news sources are not associated with MME, and have not prepared, sponsored, endorsed, or approved these summaries.

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