The FirstRand Group's history traces back to the 1970s as an investment bank. The Group as currently is was established on April 1, 1998, through a merger of the financial services interests of Anglo American Corporation of South Africa Limited (now Anglo American plc) and RMB Holdings (RMBH) in order to achieve the objective of a unified financial services grouping. These financial services interests were First National Bank Holdings ("FNB"), Momentum Life Assurers Limited ("Momentum" now part of MMI Holdings) and the Southern Life Association Limited ("Southern Life") all of which were listed on the JSE. FNB and Southern Life were delisted from the JSE and constituted as wholly owned subsidiaries of Momentum which was the vehicle to effect the merger. Momentum changed its name to FirstRand Limited and was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on May 25, 1998 with Anglo American and RMB Holdings holding 20.43% and 25.03% of the authorized capital of FirstRand respectively. Anglo American has since shed off its entire shareholding. Post merger events saw the merging of Rand Merchant Bank and FNB to form FirstRand Bank Limited, with the two units remaining to trade as divisions of FirstRand Bank Limited and the transfer of Momentum's insurance business to that of into Southern Life to form FirstRand Insurance Limited. FirstRand is listed as a "locally controlled bank" by the South African Reserve Bank, the national banking regulator. The Group has subsidiaries in South Africa and in the neighboring countries of Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho and Zambia. FirstRand also has interests in Australia and India. The Group has expressed interest in expanding its operations into Angola and Nigeria. In May 2012, Kenyan press reports indicated that the group was making plans to expand into Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. In November 2012, the Central Bank of Nigeria issued the first merchant banking licences in more than a decade to FirstRand Bank and another local firm.
Today, FirstRand Limited, also referred to as FirstRand Group is the holding company of FirstRand Bank and is a financial services provider in South Africa. It is one of the financial services providers licensed by the Reserve Bank of South Africa, the national banking regulator. Listed on the JSE and the Namibian Stock Exchange, FirstRand Limited is one of the largest financial institutions in South Africa, and provides banking, insurance and investment products and services to retail, commercial, corporate and public sector customers. In addition to South Africa, the Group operates in eight key African territories, namely, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Nigeria. FirstRand Bank has branches in London and India. FirstRand executes its strategy through a portfolio of leading financial services franchises; Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), the corporate and investment bank; First National Bank (FNB), the retail and commercial bank; WesBank, an installment finance provider; and Ashburton Investments, the Group’s newly established investment management business. The group has its headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa. FirstRand is one of the five largest banking groups in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.