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South Africa's Liberty Holdings flags weaker profit margins
November 24, 2017 / 7:07 AM / 24 days ago

South Africa's Liberty Holdings flags weaker profit margins

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 24 (Reuters) - South African long-term insurer Liberty Holdings on Friday flagged a weaker profit margin for business in the nine months to end-September, as political and economic uncertainty influence investment decisions by clients.

Liberty, in which Standard Bank has a 53 percent stake, competes with Sanlam and Discovery but has lagged rivals operationally and on the stock market over the last three years as a weak economy hit disposable incomes.

The insurer said heightened political and economic uncertainty prompted clients to opt for guaranteed products.

“This manifested in a weaker mix of business from a margin perspective and lower value of new business in the group’s retail operations in South Africa,” the insurer said in a statement.

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is scheduled to elect a new leader next month to succeed the scandal-plagued President Jacob Zuma as a national election looms in 2019.

Liberty said assets under management rose to 708 billion rand ($50.85 billion), from 676 billion rand at end-December last year.

“Operating conditions are expected to remain challenging in light of the poor outlook for economic growth,” the company added.

$1 = 13.9231 rand Reporting by TJ Strydom; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath

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