On Thursday, Sanlam said it did not expect its exposure to Steinhoff to weigh significantly on earnings.

Shares in Steinhoff have plunged more than 90% in December after former CEO Markus Jooste resigned as the group disclosed it had discovered "accounting irregularities".

Sanlam said in reference to its Steinhoff interests that "the best estimate potential impact on the group’s 2017 and future earnings is not significant".

The group’s after-tax profits from financial services could be dented by up to R580m. But the financial services group said its best estimate of potential exposure "amounts to some R230m after tax on the group’s net result from financial services".

Sanlam also said the drag on its investment returns would be limited to R175m after tax thanks to equity hedges.

Further, nonparticipating policy holder portfolios had exposure to foreign debt instruments of R358m, with mark-to-market declines on these instruments currently at R160m. These portfolios also had exposure to South African debt instruments of R771m, whose values had not declined substantiality owing to their illiquidity.

"The mark-to-market decline from these exposures will be absorbed by more than R500m of discretionary margins held by the group for such events. In the absence of actual defaults, the mark-to-market declines will reverse up to the maturity date of the instruments."

The use of these margins would not affect Sanlam’s group equity value.

With regard to other policy holder and third-party portfolios managed by Sanlam Investments, Steinhoff exposure was about 1.2% of assets under management.

As such, "the potential impact on Sanlam Investments’ recurring net result from financial services is less than R25m per annum".

Meanwhile, Sanlam said its clients’ investment returns would also be negatively affected.

In a typical balanced portfolio, Steinhoff exposure accounted for about 1.1% of portfolios on December 1, meaning that the share price implosion would have reduced annual returns by about 1%.

"The negative impact on the return of a South African Swix Equity index fund would be approximately 2.1%," Sanlam said.

Shares in Sanlam closed 2.87% lower at R84 on Thursday.

Earlier in December, Investec said its loans to Steinhoff represented less than 0.25% of its total R464.8bn credit exposure on September 30. Its loans to Steinhoff Africa Retail were less than 0.1%.

Investec said at the time it was not expecting to suffer losses on these credit exposures.

The Financial Services Board said earlier in December that all financial institutions should provide details about their exposure to Steinhoff.