Rand Merchant Investment Says First-Half Profit Declines 15%

Rand Merchant Investment Holdings Ltd., a South African investor in insurance and fund-management companies, said first-half profit declined 15 percent after net finance costs increased and the domestic economy slowed.

Net income for the six months ended December fell to 1.55 billion rand ($101 million) from 1.8 billion rand a year earlier, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement on Monday. Earnings per share excluding one-time items dropped 17 percent to 1.01 rand from 1.22 rand last year.

RMI was part of RMB Holdings Ltd., the holding company for Africa’s biggest bank by value, FirstRand Ltd., until it was unbundled in 2011. RMI has more than tripled in value since its debut on Johannesburg’s stock exchange in March of that year, making it one of the top 40 largest companies on the bourse with a market capitalization of more than 60 billion rand.

RMI owns stakes in some of the country’s biggest insurers, including Discovery Ltd., MMI Holdings Ltd. and OUTsurance Insurance Co. and plans to increases holdings in fund management companies.

“Real growth in South Africa is likely to continue underperforming in the foreseeable future,” RMI said in the statement. “The South African economy is expected to continue to be impacted by muted gross domestic product growth and disposable income, a rising inflation and interest-rate cycle and fluctuating capital markets.”

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