New Liberty chief delivers the goods

2014-08-10 15:00

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 second- largest shareholder, had anything to do with it, Dloti says Libertyhad 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.

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