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Liberty Holdings Says Nigeria Expansion Plan Delayed by Violence

Liberty Holdings Ltd., the South African insurer controlled by Standard Bank Group Ltd., said its investment plans in Nigeria may be held back after a wave of deadly bombings and kidnappings in the West African country.

“It does slow down the plans that we have, it does put out the projections that we have by a year or two,” Chief Executive Officer Thabo Dloti said in an interview today at the World Economic Forum in Abuja, the Nigerian capital. “For example we start saying look, we can do business in Lagos, maybe Abuja, but let’s wait and see before we expand to other areas to see whether this problem is going to go away.”

Business executives from around the world are arriving at the forum as Africa’s most populous country faces one of the worst rounds of violence in the capital in recent history. More than 90 people have been killed in separate bomb attacks in the past month just miles from where the conference is taking place, while U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged help to find more than 200 schoolgirls who were abducted by Islamist militants on April 14.

Liberty, valued at 37.17 billion rand ($3.54 billion), has operations in 14 African countries outside its home market as it targets expansion in faster-growing parts of the continent. The Johannesburg-based company has no plans to withdraw from Nigeria or Kenya, which has also been a target for violence by Islamist groups, according to Dloti.

“Let’s consolidate what we are doing, let’s protect our staff the best way we can, but we have taken bets on those markets, we are not going to withdraw,” he said.

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