The Sanlam that has changed so comprehensively over the past 15 years has started a fresh, riskier chapter. Shareholders need to be aware of the new dimension provided by the acquisition of Saham Finances in Morocco, says Dale Hutcheson, manager of the Absa Prime Equity Fund. The existing businesses should remain well managed, however. With the new venture the exposure to general insurance has increased overnight, from 23% to 32%, at the expense of both life and administration and health. The exposure to SA falls from 71% to 60% and that to the rest of Africa rises from 14% to 25%. General insurance can now be more volatile, as it is driven by factors outside management’s control, such as the weather. And given the high attrition rate of African operations run by SA companies, some of the more marginal operations in Saham could fall by the wayside. But Sanlam CEO Ian Kirk says: "[Already] at least 70% of our business in the rest of Africa is general insurance, not life, and predomin...

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