When Sanlam listed on the JSE on November 30 1998, a conservative pricing of 600c a share gave the then 80-year-old SA life office a market cap of R15.67bn. It added R5bn to that market value as fund managers piled into what was clearly a cheap share. But that was overshadowed by the R45.1bn listing value of rival Old Mutual, just eight months later.

At the time, Sanlam was behind Old Mutual in almost all areas, from unit trusts to pensions and annuities, and in what was called "group schemes" — the life and funeral products sold in the workplace to lower-income workers, "Tupperware style"...

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