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Almot Maqolo

HARARE – After-tax profits for Zimbabwe’s financial services giant Old Mutual Zimbabwe rose 37% to $300.7 million for the year ended 2018, the company has revealed.

The surge, from $219.3 million recorded in 2017, was backed by cost containment measures and a steady topline growth, but the company warned inflation growth still posed a risk to investment returns.

Of the PAT, the life insurance business, banking unit, holding company contributed 59%, 16% and 14% respectively. The general assurance business stands at 7% while the asset management business accounted for 4%.

At an analyst briefing, held recently, OMZL chief executive officer Jonas Mushosho said the group managed to mitigate the rise in expenses in a market characterised by inflationary pressures and acute shortages of foreign currency.

The southern African nation’s annual inflation closed the year 2018 at 42.09%. However, the treasury is optimistic that inflation will close 2019 below 10%. In the same period, the group’s operating and admin expenses declined 3% from $98.8 million in 2017 to $91.4 million in 2018.

“We managed to contain operating expenses in the face of rapidly rising inflation particularly in the last quarter of the year,” said Mushosho.

“The decline in expenses is encouraging in a hyperinflation operating environment demonstrating the fruits of the investments we have been making in Information Technology Systems, we can now realize efficiencies and reduce expenses without compromising the growth in customer services.”

As the group seeks to consolidate its market presence and improve operating efficiency, it expanded its host co-financial services shop concept by launching 2 additional green zones in 2018, bringing the total number of green zones to 8. The new green zones were in Chinhoyi and Mutare.

Net client cash flows was up 74% to $166.2 million on the back of a growth in life income as well as growth in non-life sales. Total revenue excluding investment return increased 14% to $397.5 million.

“…a growth which was through all out our business units was a result of new business acquisitions, client retention, growth in loan book, increased volume of transaction and growth in funds under management,” Mushosho stated.

A 49% growth in transactions on Mobile and Point Of Sale platforms to 190.5 million was archived over the period.

In hyperinflation environment, the company saw its cost to income ratio, improving from 62% in 2017 to 57% in 2018. Net loans and advances were up 17% to $780 million over the period as a result of mortgages, salaries loans and loans to corporates.

However, the group’s loan book was supported by a 15% increase in customer deposits. Funds under management surged by 52% to $4.1 billion largely on a combination of net client cash flow generated by gains on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange business equity investments.

On the agricultural space, the company also scaled up its weather index insurance product despite starting with a pilot project.

On the line business, banking and lending’s net profit went up by 15% from $42.1 million to $48.6 million. For the life insurance business, gross written premiums went up 10% from $160.3 million to $176.9 million while general insurance business’s gross written premiums was up 9% to $41.4 million. Asset management business sales increased 9% from $318.5 million to $345.8 million.

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