South Africa's fourth-largest insurer Liberty Holdings reported a 6 percent increase in half-year profit on Friday as strong demand from corporate clients offset a weak showing from its equity investments portfolio.
Liberty, a unit of South African lender Standard Bank, said headline EPS came in at 705.5 cents in the six months to the end of June compared with 664.7 cents a year earlier.
Headline EPS, which excludes the impact of the firm's black economic empowerment scheme and other one-off items, is the main profit measure in South Africa.
Net client cash flow, or the difference between money received from customers and given back to customers, fell 11 percent to 10.3 billion rand ($810.32 million) as its mainstay middle-class customers begin to feel the pressure of a slow economic growth, job losses and higher energy prices
Like rivals, Liberty is pushing further into the rest of Africa as decades of economic growth has increased the number of people who can invest in insurance to protect their wealth.
Liberty Holdings plans to invest up to $80 million on two deals in Nigeria by year-end, as part of a five-year strategy.
"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.