Home » 5 companies owned by South African businessman Barry Swartzberg

5 companies owned by South African businessman Barry Swartzberg

by Feyisayo Ajayi
Barry Swartzberg

Barry Swartzberg, the visionary co-founder instrumental in the rise of South Africa’s leading insurer, Discovery Limited, is undeniably a leading figure in the country’s financial services sector.

Alongside Adrian Gore, he led the remarkable transformation of Discovery, originally conceived as a medical insurance provider in 1992, into a global financial powerhouse headquartered in Sandton.

Today, Discovery’s influence extends far beyond South Africa, with a far-reaching presence through its subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, the United States, China, and Singapore.

With a multimillion-dollar stake exceeding $200 million on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and an impressive three-decade legacy in the insurance sector, Swartzberg has played an instrumental role in shaping the South African insurance and financial services landscape.

Under his and Gore’s leadership, Discovery has emerged as one of South Africa’s leading financial services groups. Renowned for its proficiency in long- and short-term insurance, asset management, savings, investments, and employee benefits, the company’s extensive portfolio has garnered global acclaim.

Billionaires.Africa has identified and cataloged various companies and holdings linked to Swartzberg.

Here are five companies in which he owns significant direct or indirect stakes:

  1. Discovery Group

Discovery Group, a multibillion-dollar financial services juggernaut headquartered in Sandton, South Africa, stands as one of Swartzberg’s crowning achievements. As the co-founder alongside Gore in 1992, he played a pivotal role in steering Discovery to its current position as one of South Africa’s largest and most diversified financial services groups. The company specializes in long- and short-term insurance, asset management, savings, investment, and employee benefits. With Swartzberg’s 3.92-percent stake in the Sandton-based financial services group, equivalent to 25,778,420 ordinary shares, he remains deeply committed to the company’s growth.

  1. Vitality Global

Swartzberg’s influence extends globally through the Vitality Group, a subsidiary of Discovery Limited. Operating in the United States and South Africa, Vitality Group is one of the world’s largest behavioral engagement platforms. It positively impacts the lives of over 30 million individuals globally, with more than 100 million activities logged monthly. Born out of South Africa’s largest private health plan, Vitality Group has, for over three decades, empowered people worldwide to live longer and healthier lives.

  1. Discovery Health 

Discovery Health Limited, established in 2006, is a healthcare financing company that focuses on providing nutritional and homeopathic consultations, treatments, and health screenings to the local community. As the leading medical scheme administrator in South Africa, it manages 18 restricted medical schemes and the largest open medical scheme, Discovery Health Medical Scheme. With a market share of more than 40 percent, Discovery Health manages 18 restricted schemes on behalf of leading corporate clients and operates under Discovery Health (Pty) Ltd., a subsidiary of Discovery Limited.

  1. Discovery Bank

Discovery Bank, a digital-only bank closely associated with Swartzberg, represents a groundbreaking approach to banking in South Africa. Recognized as the “world’s first behavioral bank,” it has gained more than 1 million accounts and boasts more than 450,000 clients on its platform, with substantial deposits and credit advances.

  1. Cogence

Through his stake in Discovery, Swartzberg indirectly influences Cogence, a global discretionary fund manager. In a strategic move in 2022, Discovery partnered with BlackRock Inc. to establish Cogence, aiming to tap into the burgeoning discretionary fund management industry. Cogence amalgamates Discovery’s formidable behavior-change platform with BlackRock’s leading asset management capabilities and local investment management expertise from RisCura. It utilizes BlackRock’s Aladdin Wealth platform and incorporates Vitality insights and data to comprehensively model retirement solutions, all while considering health experiences.

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