Old Mutual, the London-listed insurer that owns the largest insurance firm in Africa, has seemingly won its battle to gain a majority interest in the Swedish financial services group Skandia.

Old Mutual said in a statement that it had garnered the support of 62.5% of Skandia’s investors for its hostile takeover bid, worth some $6 billion.

The South African company’s battle to get its hands on the Scandinavian insurer has been ongoing for several months, during which time Old Mutual singularly failed to persuade Skandia’s management of the merits of a tie-up. In the end, Old Mutual appealed directly to the Swedish group’s shareholders to ensure the deal succeeded.

Old Mutual has extended the terms of its offer until January 12, 2006, but it now seems probable that the merger will go ahead, regulatory issues notwithstanding.

I am delighted that holders of a majority of shares in Skandia have recognized the exciting potential of combining our two companies and I look forward to welcoming every member of Skandia’s staff around the world to the Old Mutual family, Old Mutual CEO Jim Sutcliffe said in a statement reported by Reuters.