It has today been announced that Africa’s biggest insurer, Sanlam Ltd, is planning to exit several of its UK based operations in a bid to sharpen its focus. It was revealed by Bloomberg that among the exits planned by the insurance giant are its life insurance and wealth management units which are being sold to free up capital for the firm’s expansion across various African markets and in India.
Sanlam is buying a further stake in Morocco-based Saham Assurance SA for about 2 billion rand (around £102 million) to accelerate its presence on the continent, where it currently operates in over 30 countries.
CEO Paul Hanratty told Bloomberg over the phone that the Cape Town-based firm will maintain an asset management business in the UK, but it is exiting its other domestic businesses as they “don’t form part of our strategy.” Sanlam has already received £75 million for Nucleus Financial Group Plc, the sale of which was finalised in August and it is now exploring the disposal of its insurance, pensions and wealth businesses in the UK.
Bloomberg noted that the move is in line with the group’s African focus which started three years ago when it paid $1.1 billion (approx. £0.79 billion) for Saham Finance, and that Hanratty did not disclose the value of the businesses Sanlam is exiting. The group is also focusing on growing its South African market share, which is where it makes most of its money. South Africa has been hard hit by the pandemic, with several insurers reporting record mortality claims.
It was highlighted by Bloomberg that the company is raising life premiums to protect its income base from the ongoing effects of COVID-19. Hanratty noted that Sanlam has also been recording increasing claims out of its markets in East and West Africa. Sanlam, which does not declare an interim dividend, reported a 16% increase in its net result from financial services for the six months ending in June, compared with the same period last year, according to Bloomberg.