Finweek English Edition - - COVER - Ex­pan­sion i nto emerg­ing mar­kets ••

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.

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