began in earnest with the acquisition of African Life, says Heinie Werth, CE: Sanlam emerging markets.
Sanlam originally bought African Life to gain access to lower income market segments in SA, but African Life also had a presence i n some Afri ca n countries . This became the springboard f or a number of acquisitions.
Good experiences i n Botswana and India caused Sanlam to review its strategy. “We said look, we can’t be anywhere, i f we want to be a meaningful partner or contributor to businesses, we need to have focused areas − Africa, India, Southeast Asia. We decided that China was too big. In most cases we went for Anglophone countries or where legal systems were familiar,” says Werth.
Sanlam chooses st r ong l ocal partners and does not pretend it knows better about local conditions.
“We also didn’t go out with a plan that every country must work like X or Y, we took an evolutionary approach, working with local management on what can work at each stage.” Now Sanlam is in 10 countries in Africa excluding SA, as well as in India and Malaysia, and has an indirect presence in the Philippines.
Countries and companies i n the portfolio focus on different things – some more on savings, others on funeral cover. Often this is a function of income levels and Sanlam evolves with the countries as they grow.
La s t p u bl is h e d re s u l t s s h ow emerging markets contributing 19% to 20% of profits, while about three or four years ago it was 10%. Werth is aiming for 25% over the next few years.
Werth has set his sights on Angola and Mozambique and i s l ooking at Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, the francophone African countries and North Africa. In Asia, he is looking at Indonesia and the Philippines, where Sanlam’s Indian partner has a company.
But there is no rush. “For the next four to five years, the plan is to focus on these [existing] areas. We want to do better there rather than adding to the portfolio. However, there is a lot of scope to add and we will look in India for acquisitions,” he says.