Sanlam’s head office in Bellville in the Cape. Its new business volumes increased by 23 percent. Photo: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG - Financial services group Sanlam said yesterday that its Sanlam Emerging Markets division reported an overall new business growth of 19percent for the four months to end April, supported by structural activity in 2017.

“In constant currency, new business volumes increased by 23percent, up by 17percent in constant currency and excluding structural growth,” the group said.

Sanlam Personal Finance also performed well during the period and achieved overall new business growth of 11percent.

The group said that a strong growth in the recurring premium sub-cluster was augmented by good recovery at Glacier, which benefited from the improved investor sentiment in South Africa.

Glacier grew new business volumes by 11percent and Sanlam Sky’s more profitable individual life recurring premium risk business achieved strong growth of 18percent compared to the same period in 2017.

“However, the group life risk business at Sanlam Sky declined by 59percent, due to lower new business sales at Safrican, which wrote two large schemes in the first four months of 2017. Overall, risk business sales at Sanlam Sky declined by 15percent as a result,” the group said.

Sanlam, which celebrates 100 years on Friday, attributed the performance to its well-diversified profile. Sanlam Group chief executive Ian Kirk said the group was satisfied with its overall performance in the first four months of the year.

“This reaffirms the value of our diversification strategy. We are also looking forward to the completion of the Saham Finances acquisition, as it will provide us with an opportunity to further enhance Sanlam’s empowerment credentials through a 5percent empowerment share issuance as part of the funding model for the transaction,” Kirk said.

In Namibia the group had a solid start to the year with 18percent new business growth in the first four months of 2018.

“Strong growth of 31percent in investment business was partially offset by a 17percent decline in new life business flows,” the group said.

It said a recovery in annuity market share in Botswana supported overall growth of 13percent in new business volumes from this market. In the rest of Africa, new business volumes increased by 34percent and 43percent in constant currency.

The group said that most regions contributed to the growth in constant currency, apart from Malawi, which had a slow start to the year.

Saham’s Finances’ new business production was in line with the business plan, with the Angola operations, in particular, holding up well in a difficult environment.

In India the operations delivered growth of 3percent and 11percent in constant currency, with double-digit contributions from both the life and general insurance businesses in constant currency.

The group said the life insurance business in Malaysia achieved some traction and reported new business growth of 12percent, while the Malaysian general insurance business’ new business performance remained below expectations, but its profitability improved by more than 20percent.

Going forward, Kirk said while business and consumer sentiment was improving in South Africa and the economic outlook in other parts of the African continent looking more positive, they expected that the economic and operating environment would remain subdued in their largest markets for the remainder of the year.

Sanlam shares closed 6.25percent lower at R75.50 on the JSE yesterday.