File Image: Liberty CEO David Munro. Picture: Timothy.Bernard AfricanNewsAgency/ANA

CAPE TOWN -  Insurer Liberty Holdings said on Thursday that it would continue to prioritise its business in South Africa where the company has a robust core franchise. 

Liberty Group chief executive David Munro said the insurer had a clear strategy, which was progressing to plan and the company expected real evidence of its actions to come through in 2019 and 2020. “We are confident that we are on track to deliver.”

The financial services and property holding company on Thursday reported a 6 percent rise in half-year profit after it released its interim results.

In line with the group’s interim dividend policy of paying 40 percent of the prior full-year dividend, the board has approved and declared a gross interim dividend of R2.76 an ordinary share. 

Normalised operating earnings increased 18 percent to R958 million. The company’s normalised headline earnings increased 5 percent to R1 332 million.

“Our results for the half year reflect a stabilisation of our business, with normalised operating earnings up by 18 percent, supported by increased earnings from the South African insurance operations and the STANLIB businesses,” the company said. 

“We also delivered a 5 percent growth in normalised headline earnings.”

Liberty also reported that its long-term insurance net customer cash inflows amounted to R262 million compared with cash outflows of R665 million in the prior period. “This was a result of lower policy withdrawals and maturities in individual arrangements and lower scheme termination outflows in Liberty Corporate.” 

Munro said: “Over the past six months we have made meaningful progress to turn Liberty around… but we are still some distance from where we need to be, especially given weak new business volumes. 

“We have made progress in reducing organisational complexity, improving the resilience of Stanlib, enhancing risk and compliance and optimising our growth initiatives. Our working relationship with the Standard Bank Group continues to grow stronger, enabling us to unlock new opportunities,” he said.