September 11, 2013 / 8:52 AM / in 4 years

South Africa's MMI sets aside $100 mln for growth

* Full-year earnings rise 10 pct

* Dividend up 12 pct

* Shares gain over 1 pct (Adds details, CEO comments)

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 11 (Reuters) - South African financial services group MMI Holdings said on Wednesday it had set aside 1 billion rand ($100 million) for African acquisitions and to strengthen its short-term insurance business in its home market.

South Africa’s third-largest life insurer by market value also posted a 10 percent rise in diluted core headline earnings per share to 202 cents in the year to end-June. Headline earnings exclude some one-time items.

MMI said it had purchased 70 percent of insurer Mauritian Eagle as part of a plan to spend a total of 500 million rand ($50 million) on acquisitions in 12 countries outside South Africa where MMI operates.

Talks for another purchase were on-going, Chief Executive Nicolaas Kruger told Reuters.

“I‘m pretty sure in the next year we will be able to acquire something but at this stage nothing is at a point where we are in a position to make an announcement,” he said.

The company, which sells insurance, savings and investment products, said it had another 500 million rand to expand its short-term insurance business organically.

MMI, created in 2010 through the merger of Momentum and Metropolitan Holdings, said it wrote new business valued at 711 million rand, 19 percent higher than the previous year.

It also increased its dividend by 12 percent.

MMI shares were up 2.4 percent at 0845GMT, have gained more than 4 percent this year, underperforming a 10 percent rise by Johannesburg’s All-share index. ($1 = 9.9784 South African rand) (Reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; editing by David Dolan)

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