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US-Based Oaktree Acquires Sanlam Wealth

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The Cape Town-based insurer continues to shed UK businesses as it refocuses on emerging markets closer to home.

As this outlet and others mooted late last week, Sanlam has announced the sale of its UK wealth division Sanlam Wealth to US-headquartered Oaktree Capital Management for £140 million ($191.5 million).

The transaction, which is subject to the usual approvals, is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.

The South Africa-based group floated in August that it was planning to exit some of its UK-based operations, including its life insurance and wealth management units, to free up capital to expand in various African markets, as well as in India.  

The insurer said that the deal with Oaktree would ensure Sanlam Wealth’s growth and future independence.

Sanlam UK chief executive Jonathan Polin will remain leading the business supported by key members of the management team. A new leadership team for the business will be announced at “an appropriate time”, parties said on Monday, and operate under the Sanlam Wealth brand through the transition, until a new identity is announced.

“The sale of Sanlam Wealth to Oaktree ensures the business remains both operationally strong and financially stable in the long-term, while allowing us to drive forward as a faster and more agile independent wealth manager,” Polin said.

“This will be a new firm with a new purpose and a new way of working, with a refreshed commitment to delivering the very best products and services for our clients. We will have greater autonomy to flex to the needs of our people, and I look forward to working with Oaktree to assess and implement the opportunities available to us as we all look to share in the business’s future successes,” Polin added.

Managing director at Oaktree, Federico Alvarez-Demalde, added: “We firmly believe that the award-winning business built by Jonathan and his management team is a strong platform for growth in the fragmented wealth management market.”

Oaktree, listed on the New York stock market, with total assets under management of $153 billion as of end-March, is also invested in national IFA consolidator Ascot Lloyd. The Sanlam Wealth and Ascot Lloyd businesses will operate independently.

“Our investment will be targeted at providing excellent products and services for clients, development opportunities for staff and supporting management in the delivery of its innovative acquisition strategy,” Alvarez-Demalde said.

It is understood that Sanlam will maintain its UK asset management business but is lining up a further stake in Morocco-based Saham Assurance SA for about 2 billion rand ($141 million).

The Cape Town-based firm has already netted £75 million ($103 million) for UK-based Nucleus Financial Group after finalising a sale in August. It is also reportedly exploring disposing of its UK insurance and pensions businesses.