New Lib­erty chief de­liv­ers the goods

R1.9bn Head­line earn­ings for Lib­erty, a 10% in­crease over the pre­vi­ous pe­riod

CityPress - - Business - MOYAGABO MAAKE moyagabo.maake@city­press.co.za

On Fri­day, the new boss of Lib­erty Hold­ings, Thabo Dloti, de­liv­ered his maiden re­sults in­di­cat­ing a stronger show­ing for the fi­nan­cial ser­vices com­pany in the six months to June this year.

The re­sults showed the group – which has in­ter­ests in in­sur­ance, as­set man­age­ment and health – in­creased head­line earn­ings by 10% to R1.9 bil­lion, driven by new long-term in­sur­ance cus­tomers, who brought in R33.4 bil­lion worth of busi­ness.

Dloti, who took over the reins from Bruce Hem­phill in March af­ter four years with Stan­lib, is re­spon­si­ble for four of the six months re­ported. Stan­lib ap­pears to be miss­ing his golden touch. Although Lib­erty’s as­set man­age­ment arm man­aged to grow earn­ings and lift net client cash flows, re­tail (in­di­vid­ual) and in­sti­tu­tional flows into non-money mar­ket funds de­cel­er­ated steeply, fall­ing from R13.5 bil­lion to R4.7 bil­lion.

Flows into the money mar­ket seg­ment grew, but only from in­sti­tu­tional in­vestors.

Dloti says in­di­vid­u­als had shifted cash from money mar­ket to unit trusts, while the cor­po­rates tended to fluc­tu­ate.

Asked if the value ero­sion at African Bank In­vest­ments Lim­ited, where Stan­lib is the sec­ond­largest share­holder, had any­thing to do with it, Dloti says Lib­erty had not seen mas­sive with­drawals on that front.

Dloti is spear­head­ing the group’s fur­ther ex­pan­sion in the rest of the con­ti­nent.

Be­sides the coun­tries where par­ent com­pany Stan­dard Bank has a pres­ence, Lib­erty wants to en­ter five other coun­tries where the bank does not have op­er­a­tions.

Lib­erty wants to set up in­sur­ance and as­set man­age­ment busi­nesses in these coun­tries.

“Those need to be there,” he says. “With­out those, we can’t be Lib­erty.”

The group was look­ing at run­ning busi­nesses from ded­i­cated hubs.

For ex­am­ple, South Su­dan, Uganda and Ethiopia will be man­aged from Kenya.

Lib­erty has also iden­ti­fied a “sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­nity” in Nige­ria.

“Those are the mar­kets where we be­lieve we can build scale,” says Dloti.

The time­lines are dif­fi­cult to pin down – “we would like to be in Nige­ria to­mor­row”, Dloti says half-jok­ingly – since Lib­erty was still go­ing through the process of try­ing to find the right com­pany to buy or part­ner with.

For now, the cash is there. Lib­erty has a R7 bil­lion cap­i­tal buf­fer for its ex­pan­sion plans.

PHOTO: EL­IZ­A­BETH SEJAKE

NEW BOSS Thabo Dloti

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