* Operating profit rises 16 pct in 2014
* Focusing on existing businesses in 2015 (Releads, adds share price, background, ceo, analyst comment)
Financial services company Old Mutual is to focus this year on getting value from its existing businesses after reporting a 16 percent rise in 2014 operating profit that sent its shares to a record high.
The Anglo-South African group, which has a majority stake in South African bank Nedbank, went on a hiring spree last year but is in no rush to do more.
In Britain, it bought UK financial adviser Intrinsic and money manager Quilter Cheviot, enabling it to target wealthy clients ahead of UK pension reforms to take effect from April.
Nedbank also took up a 20 percent stake in African bank Ecobank, while Old Mutual announced plans to buy a majority stake in Kenyan insurance firm UAP Holdings.
Chief executive Julian Roberts told Reuters the focus in 2015 was on the group’s existing businesses.
“We’ve spent the money and now we need to get the value out of what we’ve done.”
Old Mutual also sold European businesses last year and brought its U.S. fund management arm OM Asset Management to market, though still owns the majority of it.
“The outcome is the development of another asset gatherer/manager, with a significant distribution arm and platform in the UK,” Eamonn Flanagan, analyst at Shore Capital, said in a client note, reiterating a “hold” recommendation on the stock.
Old Mutual’s shares, which have outperformed broader European insurance stocks this year, climbed 1.3 percent to a record high of 226 pence at 0835 GMT.
Roberts said Old Mutual’s growth was likely to come from Britain, which accounted for 20 percent of its performance before the purchase of Quilter Cheviot, and Africa outside South Africa, which made up 5 percent.
Old Mutual has only spent part of a 5 billion rand ($435.18 million) investment programme for expansion in sub-Saharan Africa. Its Kenyan purchase follows similar purchases in Ghana and Nigeria.
“We are not as big in Nigeria as we would like to be,” Roberts said, though he also said: “We are not in any particular rush”.
In India, Roberts reiterated the firm was waiting for “absolute clarity” on rule changes before looking to raise its stake in its joint insurance venture there with partner Kotak Mahindra.
Adjusted operating pre-tax profit for 2014 rose 16 percent to 1.6 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) on a constant currency basis, against a forecast of 1.56 billion pounds in a poll provided by the company.
Net client cash flow came in at 4.9 billion pounds, with funds under management rising 6 percent to 319 billion pounds.
Old Mutual said it would pay a final dividend of 6.25 pence per share, with a total dividend of 8.7 pence, in line with forecasts.