Sanlam’s North Africa push: Pays $375mn for a third of Morocco’s Saham

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 24 (Reuters) – South Africa’s largest insurer Sanlam said on Tuesday it will buy nearly one-third of Morocco’s Saham Finances for $375 million, as part of a strategy to look for new streams of income to offset slowing growth at home.

Ian Kirk, CEO Sanlam
Ian Kirk, CEO Sanlam

The stake in Saham Finances would be acquired from the World Bank’s private sector lending arm International Finance Corporation and buyout firm, The Abraaj Group, Sanlam said.

Insurers in Africa’s most industrialised economy are struggling to sell insurance at a faster rate as job losses sweep across the country’s mining and manufacturing industry.

In response, Sanlam, along with rivals, has been bulking up its presence in Africa, where rapid economic growth has increased the number of people with money to spend on insurance to protect their wealth.

Read also: Johan vd Merwe to leave Sanlam after losing two horse race to Kirk

Raymond Farhat, CEO, Saham Finances
Raymond Farhat, CEO, Saham Finances

“The transaction provides the Sanlam Group with the opportunity of a single entry point to expand in both North and West Africa,” Sanlam said.

Saham Finances sells insurance across 26 countries in north, east and west Africa. It is controlled by Saham Group, founded in 1995 by Moroccan tycoon – and current trade and industry minister – Moulay Hafid Elalamy.

Sanlam operates in several African countries including oil-rich Ghana, Africa’s biggest economy Nigeria and in Kenya, the strongest economy in East Africa.