Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Old Mutual Plc, the U.K.’s third-biggest insurer, said gross sales climbed 11 percent in the third quarter, led by growth in its wealth business.
Gross sales climbed to 6.5 billion pounds ($10.5 billion) from 5.85 billion pounds a year earlier, London-based Old Mutual said in a statement today. That beat the 6.27 billion-pound estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by the company. Old Mutual’s shares surged to a record in Johannesburg.
The company’s third-quarter figures are “surprisingly strong” and beat market expectations, Eamonn Flanagan, a U.K-based analyst at Shore Capital Group Ltd. with a hold rating on the stock, wrote in a note to clients today. “Overall, given the volatile investment markets and the weakening rand, we view this as a good performance.”
Old Mutual, Africa’s largest insurer, also operates in Latin America, Europe, the U.S. and Asia. The insurer, which set aside 5 billion rand ($490 million) for expansion in emerging markets, is focusing on fast-growing countries such as Kenya, where it plans to buy a majority stake in lender Faulu Kenya DTM Ltd.
“Gross sales in emerging markets continue to be healthy and Old Mutual Wealth saw a large rise in gross sales on the U.K. platform and in Old Mutual Global Investors,” Chief Executive Officer Julian Roberts said in the statement. “U.S. Asset Management produced positive cash flows of 1.5 billion pounds and Nedbank improved its operational performance.”
Funds under management rose 14 percent to 287.5 billion pounds in the nine months through September, after client inflows of 2.6 billion pounds, the insurer said. Old Mutual will consider buying asset management businesses to boost its U.S. unit, Roberts said today on a conference call.
The insurer also wants to repurchase 175 million pounds of bonds, it said in a separate statement today. The repurchase will help Old Mutual achieve its target of reducing debt by 1.7 billion pounds, Roberts said.
Old Mutual gained 4.5 percent to 33.89 rand, the most since Aug. 7 and the highest on record, by the close in Johannesburg trading. The stock is the best performer on the five-member FTSE/JSE Africa Life Assurers Index this year, having gained 38 percent.
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