Johannesburg - South African insurer MMI Holdings Limited [JSE:MMI]
reported a 22% rise in full-year earnings on Wednesday boosted by new business
volum,e but warned future expansion would remain dependent on economic growth.
MMI, born from the merger of Metropolitan and Momentum, said
core headline earnings per share totalled 163 cents in the year to end-June
compared with 134c a year earlier.
The company, whose business includes insurance and asset
management, said new business volume on an annual premium equivalent basis was 12%
higher, driven by savings and investment products.
MMI declared a total 105c dividend per share, from 63c a
Insurers are mounting a gradual recovery after being hit
hard in recent years by the economic downturn, when fewer customers bought
investment products and existing clients allowed policies to lapse.
South Africa emerged from a recession in 2009, but nagging
unemployment and debt have crimped consumer demand and weighed on household
MMI's Metropolitan International operates in 12 countries
outside South Africa, offering both health and life insurance.
MMI shares, which were listed in December 2010, have gained
nearly 1% so far this year, compared with a 6.5% drop in the JSE All Share
Watching NHI closely
Metropolitan Health, a division of MMI, has welcomed the
recent release of the national health insurance (NHI) green paper as a positive
step forward in providing affordable healthcare for a greater proportion of the
South African population.
Saying on Tuesday it was following developments in this
regard closely, the division pointed out that it had "a wealth of
experience in servicing and managing risk for most of the country's largest
medical schemes at low cost and a proven track record of delivery, with a total
client base of more than three million lives".