This is what Sanlam has achieved in its 100 years of investing in Africa


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Media Press Release

Sanlam has and always will call Africa home. For the last 100 years, the Group has been 100% committed to investing in Africa’s potential, which is evident in its expansion across 33 African countries and counting. This shows its mission to create a continent of WealthsmithsTM and an Africa full of potential for emerging generations to inherit.

From small beginnings with just seven founding members to being the financial services group with the biggest insurance footprint on the continent, the Group is constantly evolving, but its core belief remains the same: with hard work and dedication, anything is possible. This attitude, combined with a trailblazing partnership approach, has secured the success of Sanlam’s expansion strategy.

CEO Ian Kirk says that while others have come and gone, Sanlam has chosen to stay. “While some things may change, certain things will always be prioritised in our decision-making: our people, our continent and creating a legacy we’re proud of.”

All the decisions the centenarian has made – from demutualising and listing on the JSE 20 years ago to acquiring African Life in 2005 and the SAHAM acquisition that’s currently underway – have demonstrated its unwavering commitment to the continent.

It’s a strategy that’s paid off. And one few other companies have been able to get right. Kirk says the secret is in Sanlam’s approach to entering new markets, which is largely partnership-based, with a focus on upskilling and investing in local talent and enterprises. This is primarily driven by the group’s Emerging Markets division.

Junior Ngulube, CEO of Sanlam Emerging Markets, says that being African means creating strategic partnerships across the continent. “We have a win-win business model. We grow and so do our in-country partners. Our philosophy is not to come into a country and take over. It’s to work with relevant and trusted partners on the ground. To let local managers and boards run their businesses with our support. This way we create jobs, upskill individuals and invest in the countries we enter in – and Africa as a whole.”

This approach has helped fuel Sanlam’s consistently strong results. From January to April 2018, Sanlam Emerging Markets’ (SEM) net result from financial services increased by 34%, with the net value of new business improving by 14%, excluding structural activity. Overall, SEM recorded new business growth of 19%.

Much of the SAHAM acquisition has already been approved and enforced across the continent with game-changing results for Sanlam’s pan-African expansion vision. Currently subject to final regulatory approvals, the pending balance of the acquisition should be concluded soon. Ngulube said the acquisition makes perfect business sense, “SEM is strong in life insurance, while SAHAM is more focused on short-term insurance. The two businesses complement each other and so are a natural fit. We’ve always been partnership-focused and this is a way to bring our two organisations together to extract all possible synergies and facilitate the cementing of our unique footprint across Africa.”

Ngulube says the tri-partnership between Sanlam, SAHAM and Santam has positioned Sanlam as the go-to partner for multinationals in Africa and abroad. He says the group is increasingly finding opportunities to support other international insurers who are not based in Africa but have African clients. Potential he sees growing as Africa naturally takes its place as a global superpower.

Next up, Ngulube and Kirk have set their sights on the strong emerging markets of Egypt and Ethiopia. Kirk concludes, “It’s impossible to stress how deeply our vision is interwoven with our roots in Africa. As WealthsmithsTM, we’re focused on ongoing opportunity creation for all Africans. There’s unrivalled ingenuity and potential here, which we have the privilege of investing in.”

In its 100 years in Africa, Sanlam has:

– Demutualised and listed on the JSE (20 years ago) – the largest initial public offering in the country’s history at the time, more than trebling the number of JSE shareholders overnight
– Shown sustained share price growth. In 1998, a share of SLM was worth R5.85. Today it’s more than ten times higher at R79.21 (April 2018)
– Increased its market cap by R161bn, since 1998
– Championed SA’s first major black empowerment deal
– Expanded into 33 African countries through the USD1050-billion acquisition of SAHAM Finances, which is subject to final regulatory approvals


This article was paid for by Sanlam

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