SA insurers scramble to catch Sanlam in its push into Africa

Business

SA insurers scramble to catch Sanlam in its push into Africa

Insurance giant now has a presence in 34 African countries, thanks to its acquisition of Moroccan insurer

Londiwe Buthelezi


Sanlam is cornering the African market and only time will tell if any other South African insurers can catch up.
Last week the company announced that it wants to expand its portfolio in other African countries by offering general insurance (property and casualty) and employee benefit packages to multinational companies.
The group now has a presence in 34 African countries, thanks to its acquisition of Moroccan insurer Saham Finances, whose footprint spans across 26 countries across North, West and East Africa, and the Middle East.
Sanlam has chosen partners who can provide a complementary footprint rather than businesses that overlap with its own offering. Saham, for instance, has a relatively new life business and Sanlam Emerging Markets CEO Junior Ngulube said the two insurers overlap in only three countries.
While Sanlam has strong general insurance expertise in SA through its short-term subsidiary Santam, Saham has lifted Sanlam’s general insurance capability outside of SA.
Choosing the right partner and knowing which partner to get in bed with can mean the difference between a successful venture and a costly mistake. Take MMI. The insurer is in the process of exiting five African markets due to a number of challenges, including what the group CEO, Hillie Meyer, said were “partner complications”.
As Avior equity analyst, Warwick Bam puts it, it’s not just about having a partner, it’s about choosing a partner that understands your new environment well.

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