Tuesday, 11 August 2015 17:36

S.A’s Liberty Holdings’ Nigerian expansion drive to gulp $80 mln

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Thabo DlotiLiberty Holdings plans to invest up to $80 million on two deals in Nigeria by year-end, as part of a five-year strategy by South Africa’s No.4 insurer to expand further into sub-Saharan Africa, its chief financial officer said.

Like rivals, Liberty is expanding elsewhere in Africa as growth prospects attract the attention of corporate executives and promise to increase the number of people who can invest in insurance to protect their wealth.

“We have been negotiating with some parties in Nigeria to acquire some stakes in their businesses and we’ve made quite good progress in that regard,” Casper Troskie, Liberty’s chief financial officer, said in an interview.

The company, which is targeting mostly corporate clients in east and west Africa, plans to spend between 5 billion rand ($393 million) and 6 billion bulking up in those markets in the longer term, Troskie said.

Liberty said businesses outside its home market hardly grew during the period due to weak investment markets in east Africa.

Liberty, majority owned by South African lender Standard Bank, reported a 6 percent increase to 705.5 cents in headline earnings per share, a measure which excludes the impact of a black economic empowerment scheme and other one-off items, for the six months to the end of June. Net client cash flow, or the difference between money received from customers and money given back, fell 11 percent to 10.3 billion rand, hit by a slowdown in single-premium inflows from corporate clients.

Liberty’s mainstay middle-class customers remained resilient in the face of slower economic growth, job losses and higher energy prices such as electricity, Troskie said.

-BusinessDay

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