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JOHANNESBURG, March 9 (Reuters) - Sanlam Ltd, South Africa's biggest life insurer, reported a 6 percent decline in annual profit on Thursday, dragged down by unfavourable currency moves and weaker returns from the equity market.
Normalised headline earnings, a key profit measure that strips out certain one-off items, came in at 8.4 billion rand ($638.79 million), or 408.5 cents per share, in the year to end-December 2016, compared with 8.8 billion rand, or 432.5 cents per share, a year earlier.
Insurers in Africa's most advanced economy have been bulking up their presence elsewhere in Africa to offset slowing growth at home, but the continent's prospects have been dealt a blow by a collapse in commodity prices.
"We expect the challenging operating environment and economic climate to persist in 2017," Sanlam Chief Executive Ian Kirk said in a statement.
Sanlam has operations in 11 African countries, India and Malaysia. ($1 = 13.1498 rand) (Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)