Sanlam Full-Year Profit Gains 12% as Bank Pays Special Dividend

Sanlam Ltd., the largest South African-based insurer, said full-year profit rose 12 percent as sales increased and the value of equity investments climbed.

Net income gained to 5.8 billion rand ($637 million) in 2012, from 5.2 billion rand a year earlier, the Cape Town-based insurer said in a statement today. Sanlam boosted its dividend 27 percent to 1.65 rand and earnings per share excluding one-time items of 2.87 rand missed the 2.95 rand median estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. It declared a special dividend of 50 cents a share.

“The board fully supports the stated strategy not to hold excess capital that is unlikely to be utilised within a reasonable period,” Sanlam said in the statement. The special dividend will return to shareholders about 1 billion rand.

Sanlam operates in Africa, Europe, the U.K., U.S., India and Malaysia. The insurer last year bought operations in South Africa, expanded its investment in an Indian financial services group and bought a 49 percent stake in Malaysia’s Pacific & Orient Insurance Co.

In 2013, Sanlam will ’’focus on extracting more value from existing operations in Africa, continue to identify other expansion opportunities in South East Asia and selected markets and strengthen distribution capabilities in South Africa,’’ it said.