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Our History

Founded in 1918, Sanlam has a rich heritage. The Group has over the years evolved from a traditional insurer to a diversified financial service provider with both local and international footprints.



Sanlam was ranked the Top Brand for 2015 at the Loeries® Official Rankings. It also received the exclusive Top Employers South Africa 2016 certification and was named Product Supplier of the Year by the FIA.


Sanlam repositioned its brand, responding to today's challenges with a new brand that reflects Sanlam's proven expertise, diverse offering, strong investment credentials and global footprint.


Sanlam voted best life insurance company in the Customer Satisfaction Index and introduced Matrix Risk Cover, making it the first major SA insurer to offer standard life cover for people living with HIV.


Sanlam is recognised for creating opportunities for people with disabilities. Botswana Life receives the Gold World Quality Commitment International Star Award. Pan African Life wins in the Kenyan Company of the Year Awards.


Sanlam Foundation is launched. Sanlam Developing Markets moves into Malawi and Nigeria. Personal Finance contact centre is named the best in SA. Sanlam Investments and Pensions wins Service Beyond the Call of Duty Award.


Sanlam Private Investments launches a Shariah-compliant equity and portfolio management service and its Art Advisory Service, the first of its kind in SA. The Sanlam Umbrella Fund wins the Imbasa Yegolide Award for Umbrella Fund of the Year.


Sanlam's group office and 16 businesses within Sanlam Personal Finance achieve Investors in People accreditation. Sanlam receives a level 4 BBBEE rating against the Department of Trade and Industry's Code of Good Practice.


Sanlam expands its operations into Kenya and Australia. Sanlam LifePower, a comprehensive personal cover solution for people with HIV, is launched. MiWay is established to provide direct short-term insurance products.


Sanlam opens an asset management business in Nigeria. Sanlam is judged the top company with regard to client service in long-term assurance by the Ask Africa Orange index. Sanlam is named the best life assurer in South Africa by Top 500.


Sanlam acquires African Life, Channel Life and Safrican, boosting the provision of financial services in the entry-level market. Sanlam Private Investments introduces Sanlam iTrade, an online trading portal, a first in the SA insurance industry.


Sanlam enters the profitable Indian financial services market through a partnership with Shriram Life Insurance. Sanlam Sky, aimed at the entry-level market, is launched.


Sanlam shareholders approve a major BEE transaction with broad-based empowerment consortium Ubuntu-Botho, wherein the latter acquires a 10% equity stake in Sanlam.


The Sanlam Development Fund of Funds is formed, focusing on the economic development and reconstruction of the Southern African region. The Shariah compliant Nur Equity Fund is launched.


Sanlam commits to the development of a BEE charter for the financial sector. The Sanlam board approves Sanlam's BEE policy. HIV/Aids initiatives receive international recognition from the Jimmy Carter, Bill Gates and Kaiser foundations.


Two separate boards of directors are established: for Sanlam Ltd and Sanlam Life Insurance Ltd.


Sanlam receives the Investment Analysts Society's award for best financial reporting, a distinction repeated almost annually throughout the years to come.


Sanlam demutualises, listing on the Johannesburg and Namibian Stock exchanges, giving over 2.2 million South Africans a stake in the Group's future by way of free shares. Sanlam restructures into several independent businesses within a federal business structure.


Sanlam wins the UK-based Financial Times award for the world's best financial services website.


Sanlam launches the Community Builder Fund and establishes the Sanlam Development Fund with start-up capital of R100 million, to fund development projects. Sanlam opens its first foreign office, in London.


Sanlam becomes the first financial institution to enter into an asset exchange agreement approved by the Reserve Bank, enabling clients to invest offshore.


In SA's first BEE transaction, Sanlam sells MetLife to Methold, a company with an 85% black shareholding consortium. The transaction results in the formation of New Africa Investments Limited (NAIL).


Premium income exceeds R10 billion.


Sanlam makes R2 000 million available to Sankorp to encourage job creation.


Record premium income (over R5 billion) for a South African insurance company.


Sankorp is established to undertake large-scale development projects. The One Policy is introduced.


Income exceeds R1 billion.


Word processors replace electric typewriters at Sanlam, personal computers and laser printers follow in 1982.


Sanlam buys MetLife from Trust Bank, and amalgamates Homes Trust Life with Metlife to form Metropolitan Homes Trust, changing its name to Metropolitan Life in 1985.


Premium income reaches the R100 million mark, the highest in South Africa.


The 100 Plus policy, linking claim values to specific investments, is introduced. Sanso and Satbel are launched to manage the properties and interests of Twentieth Century Fox (Kinekor in South Africa). Multi-Data is established.


The first Sanlam unit trust is launched.


New IBM 360 computers are installed at Sanlamhof. VEESA is established with Andries van Riet as the first president.


Sanlam acquires its first 12 paintings by well-known South African artists, laying the foundation of the Sanlam Art Collection.


The one millionth policy is issued (the 10 millionth issued in 1988).


Sankor (Sanlam Investment Corporation) is formed to undertake development projects. The Central Retirement Annuity Fund is formed.


A Datatron computer from Burroughs is installed, a first for South African financial services.


Sanlam enters the medical insurance field and Sansom (Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Siekte en Ongevalleversekeringsmaatskappy, Bpk) is formed.


The Board approves group assurance of large groups on a voluntary basis, a medical aid scheme and an agreement with Swiss Re.


After protracted negotiations, Sanlam becomes an independent mutual life assurance company, as well as the single biggest shareholder in Santam. Central Finance Corporation is acquired to finance short-term industrial loans.


Sanlamhof, the current head office in Bellville, is inaugurated. Sanlam gains a foothold in the mining industry with the formation of Federale Mynbou.


Sanlam forms its own investment department, taking over all investments previously done by Santam.


Sanlam becomes a member of the Life Offices Management Association.


Sanlam establishes a representative office in Northern Rhodesia / Zambia.


Bonuskor is established for the reinvestment of policyholders' bonuses, allowing Sanlam to mobilise capital for the development of SA businesses.


Sanlam plays a leading role in establishing Federale Volksbeleggings (FVB) to pave the way for Afrikaner participation in business enterprises.


Sanlam plays a leading role in establishing Federale Volksbeleggings (FVB) to pave the way for Afrikaner participation in business enterprises.


Sanlam buys the shares of life assurance company African Homes Trust from Santam.


Home loans are introduced and a home building scheme established.


Sanlam moves into its own head office at 28 Wale Street, Cape Town.


Sanlam establishes a pension scheme for municipalities.


Group insurance is introduced.


The Receiver of Revenue acknowledges Sanlam, a subsidiary of Santam, as a mutual company.


Sanlam expands to South West Africa / Namibia.


Sanlam introduces a first in South Africa: disability cover and income protection.


The industrial department is transferred to African Homes Trust, a subsidiary of Santam.


Sanlam is founded in Cape Town on 8th of June.

Brief Historical Overview

In December 1917, a small group of Afrikaners and a Scotsman met in the Royal Hotel in Cape Town to discuss the formation of a company which would later prove to have a major impact on South Africa's economic history.

The Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Trust en Assuransie Maatskappij Beperk (South African National Trust and Assurance Company Limited), Santam, was registered on 28 March 1918. It was then decided to convert the life assurance department into a separate company, and the Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Lewens Assuransie Maatskappij Beperk (South African National Life Assurance Company Limited), Sanlam, was registered on 8 June 1918. Sanlam, the subsidiary, later became the spearhead of the operation, while Santam remained focused on short-term insurance.

Despite the tough early years Sanlam showed a small profit at the end of its first year, declared a bonus and continued to grow consistently from there.

Santam remained the controlling shareholder until 1954 when Sanlam became an independent mutual life assurance company, as well as the largest single shareholder in Santam.

Over the years, Sanlam's focus gradually shifted from traditional life insurance to providing a broader range of financial products and services. In 1998 Sanlam demutualised, listing on the JSE Ltd and the Namibian Stock Exchange. This changed Sanlam from a mutual entity into a public company with a share capital, namely Sanlam Life Insurance Ltd. At the same time a separate company, Sanlam Ltd, was installed as the parent company of the Sanlam group of businesses. The Group was also restructured into several independent businesses within a federal business structure.

Today, Sanlam is a diversified financial services provider with an extensive product offering catering for all market segments. The Group has consistently grown its local as well as an international footprint - it now has a presence in more than 10 African countries, India, Malaysia, Philippines, the UK /Ireland, the US, Switzerland and Australia.

Chief Executives over the years

J van Zyl

I Kirk

2015 - present day

J van Zyl

J van Zyl

2003 - 2015

F de V Rademeyer

F de V Rademeyer

Acting chief executive officer
2002 - 2003

L Vermaak

L Vermaak

2001 - 2002

M H Daling

M H Daling

1997 - 2001

D K Smith

D K Smith

1993 - 1997

P Steyn

P Steyn

1985 - 1993

F J du Plessis

F J du Plessis

1978 - 1985

P J F Scholtz

P J F Scholtz

1969 - 1978

A D Wassenaar

A D Wassenaar

1948 - 1969

M S Louw

M S Louw

Co-manager - 1946
1946 - 1949

G F S de Villiers

G F S de Villiers

1922 -1935
Co-manager 1935 - 1946

C R Louw

C R Louw

Acting managing director
1920 - 1922

W A Hofmeyr

W A Hofmeyr

Acting managing director
1918 - 1920

F H Dormehl

F H Dormehl

20 June 1918 - 20 October 1918

Economic Empowerment

From the early days of creating business opportunities for the Afrikaner minority, to Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) initiatives in post-apartheid South African in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Sanlam has been at the forefront of economic empowerment.

1940 Federale Volksbeleggings (FVB) was formed to pave the way for Afrikaner investment in business enterprises.
1946 Bonuskor was registered for the re-investment of policy bonuses, allowing Sanlam to mobilise capital for the development of Afrikaner businesses.
1960 Sankor (Sanlam Investment Corporation) was formed to undertake further large development projects.
1985 Sankorp was established to undertake major development projects.
1993 Sanlam spearheaded BEE by selling Metropolitan Life (Metlife) to Methold, a company with an 85% black shareholding consortium.
1996 Sanlam was the first company to launch a development fund to finance empowerment-related projects.
1998 With Sanlam's demutualisation, more than 2.2 million South Africans were given the opportunity to share in the Group's future. Around 32% were black shareholders.
1998 Sanlam paid R278 million into the government's Umsobomvu Fund for job creation.
2004 Sanlam shareholders approved a major BEE transaction with empowerment consortium Ubuntu-Botho, wherein the latter acquired an initial 10% equity holding in Sanlam.
2013 The initial 10-year contractual period of the BEE transaction with Ubuntu-Botho ended in December, creating value of about R15 billion - making it one of the most successful transactions of its kind in South African history. Agreement was reached to extend the partnership into the future.
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