Rand Merchant Investment Holdings (RMI) cut its interim dividend by 26% to 39c for the six months to end-December — a knock-on effect of MMI’s decision not to pay an interim dividend.

RMI holds 25.5% of MMI’s JSE-listed shares along with 25% of competing insurer Discovery’s JSE-listed shares. It also owns 87.7% of unlisted short-term insurer OUTsurance.

Monday’s results statement included its holding in London-listed insurer Hastings for the first time.

RMI announced in February 2017 it was acquiring 29.9% of Hastings, paying up to £499.5m depending on the UK insurer meeting profit targets.

RMB Structured Insurance, which was sold in March 2017, was accounted for as a discontinued operation.

The group reported its normalised earnings from continuing operations grew 26% to R2.3bn.

About half of this was contributed by OUTsurance. OUTsurance’s normalised earnings increased by 11%, mainly driven by its Australian subsidiary Youi’s 60% growth in operating profit, the results statement said.

"Growth in gross written premium income was muted by reduced new business inceptions experienced in the Australasian operations, coupled with low levels of premium inflation in SA," RMI said.

Discovery grew its contribution to the group’s earnings by 31%, taking it to R716m, nearly a third of the group’s total.

MMI’s earnings contribution declined by 2% to R396m, and Hastings added R382m to RMI’s normalised earnings.

"As MMI used to be a significant contributor of dividends to RMI in the past, this update to MMI’s dividend policy has a direct knock-on impact on the dividend that RMI can declare to its shareholders," the results statement said.

On March 7, RMI announced its chairman GT Ferreira had reached the group’s compulsory retirement age of 70, and would be succeeded by deputy chairman Jannie Durand on March 31.

"In a stellar career, he was instrumental in building leading businesses such as FirstRand, Discovery, MMI and OUTsurance. The combined value of these businesses is in excess of R550bn," Monday’s results statement said.