Recurring premiums also reported notable gains, up 38 % due to strong group risk and umbrella enhancement sales.
In the same period the group said its single premiums were up 31% due to improved single premium umbrella sales.
Positive results were also reported in net cash outflows which grew to R1.5 billion during the period, up by 50 % from last year’s R1 billion, and the group said this reflected the loss of certain investment mandates and higher risk claims linked to the economic environment.
Outside of South Africa, Liberty Africa Insurance indexed new business of R232 million, 10% higher than the prior period and this was attributable to increased single premium business from the southern African long-term insurance operations.
Despite showing some encouraging signs in the period, the group was still concerned about the country’s economic outlook in the year ahead. South Africa’s economy is expected to grow by a disappointing 0.7% in 2017.
“Operating conditions are expected to remain challenging in light of the poor outlook for economic growth. Management’s immediate priority remains the strategic execution of initiatives to restore the value of new business and margin, reduce costs and complexity in the business and improve customer experience,” the group said.
The share price traded positively for Friday. By the end of the day it closed 1.07 % up at R115.
Its long-term insurance indexed new business grew by 6percent during the period, with the group attributing this to the support gained from good Liberty Corporate new business sales.
It said low economic growth and consequential ongoing pressure on consumers continued to impact retail volumes.
“Heightened political and economic uncertainty saw continued flows into guaranteed products.
"This manifested in a weaker mix of business from a margin perspective and lower value of new business,” the group said.
Assets under management showed a slight improvement, up by 4.73 % to R708 billion, up from R676 billion last year.
The group said its strong capital position underpinned its ability to fulfil its commitments to all its stakeholders.
Other subsidiaries, including Stanlib South Africa, reported an increase in assets under management to R554 billion, up from R535 billion, reflecting growth from investment market returns and external net cash inflows of R4.6 billion.
Retail and institutional, excluding money market, net cash inflows amounted to R4.3 billion, while intergroup cash outflows were R12 billion.
Stanlib Rest of Africa reported assets under management of R55 billion, slightly up from R51 billion with external net cash outflows of R0.8 billion. Retail and institutional, excluding money market, net cash outflows amounted to R1.6 billion. Intergroup cash outflows came in at R77 million.
The retail insurance operations indexed new business of R4.9 billion.
- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE