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Growing African business boosts Liberty

Feb 28 2013 08:54
Reuters

Company Data

STANDARD BANK GROUP LIMITED [JSE:SBK]

Last traded 169
Change -3
% Change -1
Cumulative volume 3754265
Market cap 0

Last Updated: 01/01/0001 at 12:00. Prices are delayed by 15 minutes. Source: McGregor BFA

LIBERTY HOLDINGS LIMITED [JSE:LBH]

Last traded 110
Change -2
% Change -2
Cumulative volume 384540
Market cap 0

Last Updated: 01/01/0001 at 12:00. Prices are delayed by 15 minutes. Source: McGregor BFA

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Johannesburg - South Africa's third-largest insurer by market value, Liberty Holdings [JSE:LBH], posted an expected 39% hike in full-year earnings after a strong performance by its investment portfolio and its African operations.

The insurer, majority owned by Africa's biggest lender Standard Bank Group [JSE:SBK], said BEE normalised headline earnings per share came in at 1,328 cents from a restated 957c in the previous year.

Liberty flagged earlier this month that earnings would range between 1,245 and 1,390c, a growth of 30%-45%.

BEE normalised headline earnings, which exclude certain one-time items and take into account the impact of its black shareholder scheme, is Liberty's main performance measure.

Liberty said its investment portfolio yielded a gross return of 16%. It raised its normal dividend by 10% to 528c and declared a special dividend of 130c.

Like other insurers in Africa, Liberty has struggled to grow its businesses on the continent outside South Africa, where insurance is more of a luxury than a necessity.

The company has operations in 15 African countries including lucrative markets such as Nigeria, Angola, Kenya and Uganda, where most of its new business is likely to come from.

The African insurance business had a three-fold increase in Liberty's share of earnings to R69m, it said.

Standard Bank is due to report its earnings on March 7.

Liberty's shares have risen over 3% so far this year after a flat performance in 2012. In comparison, Johannesburg's All Share [JSE:J203] index is unchanged so far this year. 

At 07:06 GMT, Liberty's shares were up 3.48% to R119.

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