Biggest African Insurer Seals Largest Deal Yet in Growth Drive

(Bloomberg) -- Sanlam Ltd., Africa’s largest insurer by market value, said it fulfilled all the conditions for the $1.1 billion purchase of the shares it doesn’t already own in Morocco’s Saham Finances SA after regulators approved the deal.

The Cape Town-firm’s biggest acquisition yet deepens Sanlam’s presence in 33 markets across North Africa, the Middle East, southern, East and West Africa. Sanlam’s acquisition of the remaining 53.37 percent of Saham Finances, announced in March, brings its total investment in the company to almost $1.7 billion since February 2016.

"The African presence of the combined group is unparalleled in the industry," Junior Ngulube, chief executive officer of Sanlam Emerging Markets, said in an emailed statement. "With expertise across life, general and specialist insurance and investment management in Africa, we now have significant opportunities for cross-selling and diversification.”

Sanlam now owns 90 percent of Saham Finances, while its property and casualty insurer, Santam Ltd., will hold the balance. Nadia Fettah will remain CEO of Saham Finances and together with deputy CEO, Emmanuel Brule, will join the Sanlam Emerging Markets executive committee, the company said.

Flush with excess cash, Sanlam has been on an acquisition spree across emerging markets and Africa at a time when its main South African rival, Old Mutual Ltd., returns to its roots on the continent after splitting off its U.S. and U.K. businesses. Saham Finances, a Casablanca-based arm of the Saham Group founded by Moulay Hafid Elalamy in 1995, is the largest insurer on the continent outside of South Africa.

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