Sanlam’s international expansion has been slow and incremental. At the time of listing 20 years ago, Namibia was its only sizeable life business outside SA. So the $1bn it has put down to take full control of Morocco-based Saham Finances looks uncharacteristically bold. But Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM) CEO Junior Ngulube says it provides the group with a footprint that competitors will find hard to match. There should be room for growth — even more developed countries such as Morocco and Kenya have a life insurance penetration of less than 1% and little more penetration in general insurance. Combined, Saham and SEM are represented in 33 countries in Africa, and puts it in a strong position for multinationals looking for help with their general insurance, life insurance and reinsurance needs. Ngulube says that not a single person has left either group as a result of the merger, and there was overlap only in three markets. Sanlam is targeting a dollar return of 12% from Saham. As gen...

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