Sanlam, Santam transaction expands footprint in Africa

JOHANNESBURG: IN one of Sanlam Group's biggest transactions yet, Sanlam and Santam have reached an agreement to acquire a 30 percent stake in Morocco-based Saham Finances. The acquisition of Sahama, which operates in a total of 26 countries predominantly across Africa and with a presence in the Middle East, is estimated at US$ 375 million.

Sanlam and Santam will acquire 30 percent of the share capital of Saham Finances from The Abraaj Group (Abraaj) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is a member of the World Bank Group, and the IFC African Latin American and Caribbean Fund (IFC ALAC Fund).

The transaction is still subject to regulatory approvals and the acquisition by the Saham Group of the remaining stake (7,5 percent) held by Abraaj, IFC and the IFC ALAC Fund in Saham Finances. On completion of the transaction, Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM) will hold 75 percent and Santam 25 percent of the stake through a special purpose vehicle.

The transaction is set to expand the Sanlam Group's footprint across the African continent with entry into new attractive markets for the Group. These include, among others, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Senegal and Cameroon in Francophone West Africa; the Arabic-speaking North African country of Morocco and Lebanon in the Middle East and Angola in Lusophone Southern Africa. Sanlam Group's Chief Executive, Mr Ian Kirk, said Africa presented the company with a unique, long-term growth opportunity.

This partnership with Saham Finances will provide the Sanlam Group with a significant competitive advantage as no other insurance company can offer the same regional network to the professional and corporate market, the official said. It is envisaged the transaction, which is aligned to our diversification strategy, will enable the company to access a diversified blend of new high-growth insurance markets in North and West Africa, which are largely underpenetrated.

We are confident that the continent's growing population, improved political landscape and the evolving financial markets and regulatory environment support our vision of being a leading Pan-African financial services company," said Kirk. SEM's Chief Executive Officer, Heinie Werth, said although established just 20 years ago, Saham Finances was a well-established business with an impressive footprint across 26 countries in which they have achieved many market leading positions. "We look forward to a solid partnership with Saham Finances, which is a business steeped in values that are common to ours," Werth said.