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Liberty’s First-Half Profit Rises as Insurer Sells Policies

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Aug. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Liberty Holdings Ltd., the insurer controlled by Standard Bank Group Ltd., said first-half profit rose 5 percent as it sold more policies and equities gained.

Net income rose to 1.67 billion rand ($169 million) from 1.58 billion rand a year earlier, Johannesburg-based Liberty said in a statement today. Earnings per share excluding one-time items and accounting adjustments gained to 6.49 rand, compared with 6.13 rand a share in the previous period.

“Performance has been supported by innovative new products, solid insurance new business growth, reasonable investment fund performance,” Liberty said in the statement.

Liberty will pay a gross interim dividend of 212 cents per ordinary share, a 10 percent increase from last year.

The insurer has operations in 14 African countries outside its home market as it targets expansion in faster-growing parts of the continent. South Africa’s stock market reached a record high in May.

“Our core insurance and asset management businesses are performing better than assumptions,” Liberty 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.”

Liberty declined 2.9 percent to 119 rand in Johannesburg trading today. The stock has risen 10 percent this year, less than the 15 percent gain by the FTSE/JSE Africa Life Assurers Index.

To contact the reporter on this story: Renee Bonorchis in Johannesburg at rbonorchis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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