Liberty Holdings Limited

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Liberty Holdings Ltd
Industry Financial Services (Wealth Management)
Founded 1957
Headquarters South Africa, Johannesburg
Key people
Saki Macozoma (Chairman, since 2007)
Thabo Dloti(Group Chief Executive, appointed 2014[1])
Steven Braudo (Deputy Chief Executive, appointed 2014)[1]
Total assets R 611 billion (as at 31 December 2013)
Number of employees
10115 (2014) incl. tied agents
Divisions Retail SA
Properties,(commercial real estate)
Liberty Africa, Insurance

Liberty Holdings Limited is a Pan-African financial services company with headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa. Founded in South Africa by entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sir Donald Gordon, in 1957, the company has since grown to hold R611 billion in assets under management (as at 31 December 2013).

The Group’s principal operating business, Liberty, is the third largest life insurer in South Africa by market capitalisation. Wholly owned subsidiary, Stanlib, is the second largest investment manager in South Africa. Stanlib is the country’s largest unit trust (mutual fund) company—managing over R545 billion assets for over 400 000 retail and institutional clients across the African continent, with presence in seven African countries.

Liberty Holdings is 54% owned by the Standard Bank Group, the largest African bank by total assets.

Represented in 16 African countries,[2] the group offers a comprehensive range of long-term insurance products and services which include life and health related insurance, investment management, and facilitation of retirement income to meet the changing financial, investment, and lifestyle risk needs of retail and corporate markets. The group offers short-term insurance outside of South Africa.

Africa Operations (Liberty Africa Insurance)[edit]

Represented in 16 African countries, Liberty Holdings established Liberty Africa insurance in 2008. Liberty Africa Insurance was established to enable Liberty Holdings’ expansion into Africa and manage operations outside South Africa. Liberty Africa Insurance works collaboratively with other business units to provide country, market, and industry assessment, with a view to identifying and capturing growth opportunities. Liberty Insurance Africa offers two product pillars, Life and Short-term Insurance.

Liberty Life was established as Greenfield operations leveraging on Standard Bank's infrastructure and brand. In 2011, the group acquired Liberty Kenya Holdings, consisting of CfC Life (Life insurance) and Heritage Insurance (short–term insurance)in Kenya.

A dedicated team of actuaries, operational experts, project managers, and other professionals based in South Africa ensure that appropriate foundations (processes, pricing, and risk management solutions) are set up.

Development highlights[edit]

Liberty Life Association of Africa Ltd. was founded in 1957 by life insurance and property development entrepreneur Sir Donald Gordon. The company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in 1962. This was the first listing of a life assurance company in the history of the JSE.[3] Liberty Group Ltd listed on the JSE in 1999—the same year Standard Bank acquired the Liberty Group[4]

Ten years later, in 2009, Liberty Holdings became the sole listed entry-point for investors when Liberty Group Ltd was delisted. From the late 1950s Liberty rapidly and organically grew its business on retirement annuities (from 1960), regional shopping centres (from 1975),[5] universal life products (from 1983), and fully underwritten medical insurance (from 1991).

Further growth and expansion happened through acquisitions including: South African interests of international assurers Manufacturer’s Life of Canada (1972), Sun Life of Canada (1974), the South African interests of UK’s Prudential Assurance Company (1986), Charter Life (1988), and Capital Alliance and Rentmeester (2003). During the 1980s and 1990s, Liberty developed its international property portfolio notably in UK shopping centres—through TransAtlantic Holdings (subsequently renamed Liberty International, which listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE)) in 1981.[3]

Liberty Holdings History[edit]

  • BEE normalised operating earnings rose by 28% and BEE normalised headline earnings by 11%. The results were one of the best in the group’s history (Financial Results for the year ended 31 December 2013)[6]
  • AUM R611 billion (as at 31 December 2013
  • Credit Rating: AA (zaf) with stable outlook
  • The Top 100 Empowerment Companies survey placed Liberty 8th in South Africa
  • Liberty achieved BBBEE Level 2 (according to the BBBEE Codes)
  • Liberty Corporate was voted Best Product Supplier in the 2013 Employee Benefits Awards by the Financial Intermediaries Association
  • CFC Life (Liberty Africa Insurance, Kenya) won two awards at the Kenyan
  • Annual Insurance Awards 2013
  • Sandton City turned 40 on 12 September 2013
  • Total assets reached the R 528 billion mark
  • Liberty Africa acquired Liberty Kenya Holdings, consisting of CfC Life (life insurance) and Heritage Insurance (short-term insurance) in Kenya. This enabled provision of a full-spectrum of wealth services in East Africa
  • Total assets under management reached the R 373 billion mark
  • Liberty Group Ltd delisted and Liberty Holdings became the sole listed entry-point for investors
  • Liberty established a presence in Nigeria
  • Corporate restructure to facilitate the group’s wealth management growth strategy
  • Liberty Health added 500 000 lives under management in first full year of African operations
  • Liberty Africa Insurance was established to enable Liberty Holdings’ expansion into Africa and manage operations outside South Africa.
  • Liberty Africa set up new business operations in six African countries
  • Liberty’s 50th Anniversary celebrated
  • Liberty’s majority shareholder, Standard Bank, achieved a significant milestone with the announcement of a strategic partnership with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (ICBC), the world’s largest bank by market capitalisation
  • 100% acquisition of STANLIB completed
  • Sale of off-shore entities, Ermitage (Jersey) and Prefsure (Australia) completed
  • Liberty Life maintained its JSE SRI listing (social responsible investment)
  • Donald Gordon was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, Her Majesty the Queen, for services to arts and business
  • Sir Donald Gordon turned 75 and left Liberty Holdings, maintaining 21% interest in the company
  • Liberty Life maintained its JSE SRI listing (social responsible investment)
  • 10% of Liberty Life’s South African operations are sold to BEE consortium
  • Acquisition of Capital Alliance and Rentmeester
  • Liberty Corporate Benefits bought part of Investec Employee Benefits
  • Formation of STANLIB (Liberty Life and Standard Bank joint venture). Liberty’s 100% acquisition of Stanlib was completed in 2007.
  • Wits University Donald Gordon Medical Centre (DGMC) established with a founding donation from The Donald Gordon Foundation. This was the first private academic hospital in South Africa.
  • Liberty Group, Simeka Investment Holdings and Genesis Capital announced an innovative, credible entry into the empowerment arena with the formation of a new financial services company, Simeka Financial Services (Pty) Ltd.
  • Liban won five Standard and Poor-Mircropol awards for fund performance for period ending December 2000
  • Between 2000 and 2004, Liberty International’s total gross assets rose from £4.1 billion (R51.6-billion) to £5.7-billion (R 71.8 billion) giving a total shareholder return of about 260% between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2004 (outstripping 105% on the FTSE real estate index.
  • The Gordon Institute of Business (GIBS) was established in Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Guardbank Unit Trusts newly named Liberty Unit Trusts
  • Liberty Life Properties newly named Liberty Group Properties and retail rent collections exceeded R 100 million per month
  • Multi-manager asset management company formed through a joint venture between Liberty Group, Standard Bank Investment Corporation, and Investment Solutions
  • The Liberty Group reached agreement with Liberty International PLC to acquire 100% of the Liberty Ermitage Group
  • Gordon sold the family’s joint control of Liberty Holdings to Standard Bank
  • Founder and chairman, Donald Gordon retired from Liberty Life
  • Liberty International unbundled
  • Liberty Life’s new business income measured R 3.35 billion
  • Profit increased by 56% from R 2.4 million to R 3.7 million (Liberty Life interim results)
  • Donald Gordon was chairperson of eight public companies including Liberty Life, Liberty Holdings, and deputy chairperson of South African Breweries (SAB), and Standard Bank
  • Libsil and First International Trust were unbundled
  • Liberty Life entered the direct sales market by establishing an outbound Call Centre to market clients
  • Sandton City (Johannesburg) celebrated its 25th Anniversary (valued at R3 billion, generating 24% of LL Properties total income at that time)
  • Liberty Life celebrated its 40th anniversary
  • Liberty International: launched PensionStore (the first company in Britain to market pension funds at shopping centres and LI Jersey’s Money Funds were given a AAAm rating (highest worldwide)
  • Exchange control regulations were lifted and South Africans could invest up to R

200 000 off shore

  • Liberty Life bought back 50% of Guardbank from First National Bank (FNB) for R 290 million
  • Liberty Life Group restructure brought Liban, Guardbank, and Liberty Life Properties into Liberty fold
  • Total assets exceeded R 101 billion and share dividends were up by 32.8%
  • Liberty Life announced record high of over R 4 billion for new business realised 1995. This was up 17% on the R3.4 billion achieved in 1994.
  • TransAtlantic Holdings was renamed Liberty International Holdings (to project a wider international identity for the Liberty Life Group )
  • Liberty International Jersey launched (Channel Islands)
  • Liberty Life went live on the World Wide Web with
  • Liberty International announces a major strategic alliance with the UK’s largest pension scheme, the BT Pension Scheme, and its fund manager, Hermes.
  • At the 1996 Holiday Inn World Wide Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Liberty Life Properties was awarded the Torchbearer Award on behalf of the Holiday Inn Garden Court Sandton City
  • The Reserve Bank announcement the life assurer’s, pension funds, and unit trusts could invest a portion of their funds in overseas markets (conditional)
  • Liberty profitably sold its share in Sun Life (U.K. assurer)
  • Blueprint, the first computer-based financial needs analysis in the industry is introduced by Liberty Life
  • South African’s first democratic elections
  • TransAtlantic Holdings issued convertible bonds for R R1.4 billion
  • Capital Shopping Centres lists on the LSE
  • Liberty Life issues over $320 million in ten-year redeemable convertible bonds
  • Liberty Strategic Investments (Libsil) established to manage the company’s industrial and financial investments
  • Liberty Life ranked 5th largest company in South Africa on JSE (i.t.o. market capitalisation)
  • The Liberty Foundation was established
  • Liberty increased interests in STANBIC to approximately 39%
  • Liberty Life introduced fully underwritten medical insurance
  • The dividend paid to shareholders exceeded R 100 million for the first time, and investment income exceeded R 1 billion
  • Shareholder funds reach over R 3 billion and total assets valued at R 14.8 billion
  • The first dividend of R 13 million, received from Liberty Life’s offshore investments
  • Construction work commenced on a major extension to Liberty Life Centre (Braamfontein, Johannesburg)
  • Restructuring of First Union General Investment Trust (Fugit) by the exchange of its equity portfolio for Liberty Life’s offshore investments. This involved the successful conclusion of a R 484 million rights issue, the biggest ever in South Africa, and the renaming of Fugit as First International Trust Limited (FIT) as the international holding company for the Liberty Life Group’s offshore investments
  • TransAtlantic increased its interest in Sun Life to 29.9% and, after successfully preventing the Board from implementing certain corporate proposals, obtained representation on the Sun Life Board for two of its nominees
  • Construction commenced on three major regional shopping centres on or adjacent to the M25 Ring Road encircling the Greater London conurbation
  • Liberty Life acquired Charter Life
  • Record new business production reached R 247 million of recurring premium income, a one-hundredfold increase on the figure for 1967, when R2.3 million was recorded
  • Liberty Life celebrated its 30th anniversary
  • Premium income exceeded R 1 billion for the first time, with policyholder benefits exceeding the R 750 million mark
  • The Prudential Assurance Company of South Africa became a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Life with effect from 1 January 1987
  • Liberty Life became the largest shareholder in Stanbic by increasing its interest to over 30% (following the final disposal of the interest held by Standard Chartered Bank)
  • Liberty Life’s market capitalisation achieved the R 3 billion level for the first time and total assets of Liberty Holdings and Liberty Life each exceeded R 11 billion
  • Liberty Life, has since 1960,paid a dividend each year
  • TransAtlantic Holdings PLC, the United Kingdom registered investment holding company, was listed on the Luxemborg Stock Exchange (Oct 1987)
  • Total assets exceed R 11 billion
  • Libety Life’s R 300 million takeover of the Prudential Assurance Company of South Africa
  • R 2.2 billion flotation of Liberty Investors Limited
  • TransAtlantic gained control of Continental & Industrial Investment Trust, a significant authorised investment trust listed on The Stock Exchange, London
  • TransAtlantic acquired control of Capital & Counties following a take-over bid on The Stock Exchange, London.
  • Liberty Life became a registered financial company in respect of Standard Bank Investment Corporation and increased its stake to over 21% to a level of 39%
  • Liberty Life disposed control of Clydesdale (Transvaal) Collieries to Gold Fields of South Africa in exchange for a significant shareholding issued by Gold Fields of South Africa to Clydesdale shareholders
  • Liberty Life, in association with Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Company (JCI) and Anglo American Corporation, acquired joint control of Premier Group Holdings which, in turn, acquired a 35 percent interest in The South African Breweries (SAB)
  • Standard Bank Investment Corporation, in exchange for a large issue of its shares, increased its interest in Liblife Controlling to 50% involving joint control of The Liberty Life Group with its founders(Liblife Controlling Corporation was formed in 1978 with the Standard Bank Investment Corporation, Stanbic, to repurchase controlling interest in Liberty Life from GRE in the UK)
  • Liberty Life started growing business on universal life products
  • Liberty Life’s 25thanniversary celebrated
  • The Liberty Life Centre (new corporate headquarters) opened in Braamfontein, Johannesburg
  • Assets exceed R2 billion
  • Acquisition of controlling stake (29.6%) in Capital & Counties, a major retail property developer)
  • Liberty Life was granted a listing on The Stock Exchange, London. TransAtlantic Holdings, in exchange for an issue of shares, acquired a 29.6% interest in Capital & Counties, a major United Kingdom property company involved in large-scale real estate development.
  • Liberty Life introduced to South Africa the "Lifestyle Protector" — a unique policy designed to maintain the purchasing power of future premiums
  • TransAtlantic Holdings established in London as the vehicle for Liberty Life’s international development and acquired an important interest in Sun Life Assurance Society of the United Kingdom. This made TransAtlantic the largest and dominant shareholder in Sun Life
  • In South Africa, Liberty Life introduced the first share incentive scheme for employees which included all races. Employees were eligible to acquire a minimum of R 2 000 shares in the company
  • Following 20 years of exponential growth, control of The Liberty Life Group returned to South Africa when Liblife Controlling Corporation was formed by Liberty Life’s founders together with Standard Bank Investment Corporation to acquired a controlling interest in Liberty Holdings from The Guardian Royal Exchange (GRE) Group which retained and 11 per cent interest. Guardian Assurance Holdings (now Liberty Holdings) and its holding company GRE, then, controlled assets of some R 700 million. The South African subsidiary represented around 10 per cent of the assets of the Life Fund of Guardian Royal Exchange or GRE (so named following the historical merger between the Royal Exchange Assurance and the Guardian.)
  • At this point there were three Liberty Life Group companies: Guardian Assurance Holdings, Liberty Life, and Guardian Assurance S.A. (short-term arm). Gordon was chairman of all three. With the management buy-back from GRE he effectively reclaimed control of his creation
  • The Liberty Life Group strategy to directly internationalise the business became priority
  • Liberty Life gained control of First Union General Investment Trust, South Africa’s premier listed investment trust, thereby enabling LL to acquire large holdings of key South African industrial and financial equities
  • After long association with Liberty Life, Rapp & Maister, a leading listed property owning and development company, became a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Life (Rapp & Maister had first approached Liberty Life earlier in the 1970s to invest in Sandton City, a ground-breaking project and landmark shopping centre in Sandton, Johannesburg which birthed Liberty Properties. Today Sandton is called ‘the richest square mile in Africa’)
  • LL acquisition of Clydesdale (Transvaal) Collieries
  • Liberty Life enters the South African retail property investment market for the first time, and grows business on regional shopping centres
  • LL acquisition of the South African life insurance operations of Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, thereby further substantially augmenting its asset base and career agency force
  • Liberty Life acquisition of the Real Estate Corporation, a major South African listed property company
  • Liberty Life acquisition of the South African operations of Manufacturers Life of Canada which doubled the company’s size overnight (increasing its asset base to over R100 million)
  • Donald Gordon became the first foreign-based director of Guardian Royal Exchange (GRE in the United Kingdom)
  • Liberty Life introduced the Liberty Property Bond series of policies which for the first time makes available effective linkage of policy benefits to the growth and hedge potential of major multi-million rand property investments owned by The Liberty Life Group
  • Guardbank established in conjunction with Barclays National Bank, (now First National Bank (FNB) in South Africa
  • The South African stock market crashed (JSE)
  • Liberty Asset Management (Libam), the investment management arm of The Liberty Life Group, was launched
  • One of the founders, Louis Shill, left Liberty Life to lead the Sage Holdings financial services group
  • Liberty Holdings (formerly Guardian Assurance Holdings, South Africa) formed to consolidate the South African interests of The Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance Group (GRE) through acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Guardian Assurance Company of South Africa and 75% of the issued share capital of Liberty Life.
  • Liberty Holdings listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in December 1968 following record public subscription
  • Total assets exceeded R 10 million
  • Liberty Life introduced the variable investment participation (VIP) principle which established a direct link between policyholders’ benefits and the investment portfolio of the company, allowing Liberty Life to relate its policyholders’ benefits directly to the potential of its own investment portfolio, particularly in relation to equities to protect against inflation
  • Liberty Life, in partnership with two other South African financial institutions, launched South Africa’s first mutual fund and introduced the concept of life insurance policy benefits linked directly to mutual funds
  • TransAtlantic (Liberty Life’s overseas associate company) was obliged to dispose its interest in Abbey Life (U.K.), when it took up association with Guardian Assurance Holdings of London
  • Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance of London, one of the largest and most important international composite insurance giants bought 75% of Liberty Life from the small group of Liberty’s founding members (Donald Gordon, Louis Shill, Hugh Rubin, Brian Young and Sydney Lipworth). Liberty Life assets were valued at R 3 million. Guardian’s outlay was about £750 000 (under R 2 million at the time), a fraction of Guardian’s world-wide asset value of £1 billion.
  • Liberty Life was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), the first life insurance company to be listed (at R2.70 per share)
  • Total assets exceeded R 1 million (a tenfold increase over the original capital base in three years)
  • African Life acquired 23 per cent interest in Liberty Life for R 300 000 (paying R10 per share, a near fourfold increase on the opening listing price within six months of listing)
  • Donald Gordon co-founded Abbey Life in the UK (this was to become the largest listed insurance company formed in the UK since WWII).
  • Liberty Life introduced the first retirement annuity products to the South African life insurance market (RAs)
  • Liberty Life was registered as a life assurer on 22 August 1958, South Africa with a capital of R 100 000[7]
  • The first policy was issued on 1 October 1958
  • By 19 December 1958, Liberty Life had 106 policies on its books (£765 000 sum assured
  • Liberty Life Association of Africa Limited was incorporated on 10 September 1957. * Donald Gordon (at 27 years old) was the key founding member who created Liberty Life with raised capital of £50 000
  • The first board meeting was held on 8 October 1957 (there were only two board members, Donald Gordon and Sydney Lipworth and three staff members)[3]


  1. ^ a b Van Der Merve, Christy (2014). "Liberty Holdings announces executive shuffle". RISKSA. 
  2. ^ Liberty Fact Sheet (PDF). 
  3. ^ a b c Romain, Ken (1989). Larger Than Life, Donald Gordon and the Liberty Life Story. Jonathan Ball publishers. 
  4. ^ Leadership Magazine, Special entrepreneur edition (2012). Sir Strenue, The (Liberty) life and times of Donald Gordon. p. 326. 
  5. ^ Dreams of the past become realities of the future—Sandton City. Wisdom Keys Group. ISBN 978-0-620-51612-9. 
  6. ^ Liberty Holdings Financial results (2013). "Financial results for the year ended 2103" (PDF). Liberty Holdings. 
  7. ^ "Liberty Fact Sheet". "". 

External links[edit]