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New insurance business buoys Liberty

Aug 01 2013 09:10
Reuters
Johannesburg - Long-term insurer Liberty Holdings [JSE:LBH] posted a 6% rise in half-year earnings on Thursday after strong growth in new insurance business.

The firm, majority-owned by Africa's biggest bank Standard Group [JSE:SBK], reported a BEE normalised headline earnings per share of 602.7 cents from a restated 568.8 cents a year ago.

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.

New insurance business increased 11.8% to R3.1bn while total assets under management grew by nearly 17% to R566bn.

Liberty, which has operations in 15 African countries and has asset management and property businesses, raised it dividend payout by 10% to 212 cents.

"Our core insurance and asset management businesses are performing better than assumptions," it said.

"We anticipate that they will continue to do so and attract higher levels of new business at improved margin despite the current pressure on consumer disposable income in South Africa."

Standard Bank holds a 53.6% stake in Liberty and reports its own first-half performance later this month.

Liberty's shares have risen over 10% so far this year. Johannesburg's All-Share index is up 5% in comparison.

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