Adrian Gore, CEO of Discovery. Picture: MARTIN RHODES
Adrian Gore, CEO of Discovery. Picture: MARTIN RHODES

DISCOVERY CEO Adrian Gore — who has been at the helm for 20 years — said on Tuesday he was still committed to serving the company and hoped to expand the business into the rest of Africa in the next three to five years.

Speaking after Discovery’s annual general meeting in Sandton on Tuesday, Mr Gore said he was "still halfway through the marathon" and would continue serving the company as long as he added value and the business was still growing.

"We have started to internationalise the business successfully. Our international expansion is still embryonic ... within three to five years we think we will be involved in Africa."

Mr Gore is one of the longest serving CEOs of a listed financial services company in South Africa. He founded Discovery Health in 1992. The company listed on the JSE in 1999 and has now grown its offering from medical health insurance to long and short-term insurance, investment products and credit cards.

It has 5.8-million clients globally and has operations in the US, UK and China.

Mr Gore has previously said that one of the challenges of expanding into the rest of Africa is the shortage of private hospitals offering Discovery the opportunity to sell its medical insurance products.

In China, where Discovery owns 20% of health insurance company Ping An, the focus next year will be to become the number one provider in the group high-end insurance market, focus on the individual market and roll out the Vitality wellness programme.

Ping An is the third-largest writer of group high-end medical insurance. One of the big players in China is Cigna.

The public healthcare system in China, through the Social Health Insurance, provides basic medical cover to 90% of the Chinese. Private health insurance companies play a role in supplementing the public healthcare system and offering medical insurance for diseases that are more expensive to treat.

At Discovery’s annual general meeting on Tuesday, the company announced that its nonexecutive director Vhonani Mufamadi was stepping down due to "pressing work commitments".

Among other resolutions that were passed yesterday shareholders voted to change the company’s name to Discovery Limited from Discovery Holdings Limited.

Discovery shares ended up 1.05% to R56.80 on Tuesday.

From year-to-date — January to December 4 — Discovery shares have risen by 30.57%.