Investors see SA ‘with fresh eyes’

6 July 20005

International confidence in South Africa has been strengthened by recent political and economic developments, according to Wendy Luhabe, chair of the International Marketing Council of South Africa (IMC).

A high-level delegation of South African business leaders, led by the IMC, recently returned from a week-long trip to the UK and Germany – a follow-up to the IMC’s Brand South Africa mission to the United States in 2004.

According to the SA Press Association (Sapa), the 21-member team met privately with senior figures leaders in banking and investment circles, and held investment conferences in Frankfurt, Munich and London.

The mission was supported by a television advertising campaign in European countries, with a short documentary on SA as a business destination flighting on European channels – including CNBC Europe’s influential World Business programme – throughout June.



‘Wealth of possibilities’
“Investors are looking at South Africa with fresh eyes, and are recognising the wealth of possibilities waiting for them,” Luhabe told the SA Press Association.

IMC Chair Wendy Luhabe

IMC Chair Wendy Luhabe

President Thabo Mbeki was widely praised in May after he decided, in the face of popular opposition at home, to fire SA’s deputy president, Jacob Zuma, after the Durban High Court found that Zuma and a former financial adviser had had a “generally corrupt relationship”.

Mbeki’s appointment of former minister of minerals and energy, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, as Zuma’s replacement was also well received by the business community.

Foreign investor confidence in South Africa has also been boosted by a number of major deals announced this year, with three of these – together amounting to about US$5.63-billion in foreign direct investment – following hot on each other’s heels since the beginning of April.

According to Sapa, the IMC delegation was hosted by the London Stock Exchange, DaimlerChrysler’s Stuttgart headquarters, the Bavarian ministry of trade, technology and transport in Munich, Goldman Sachs and the editorial team of the Economist magazine.

BEE ‘an economic plus’
IMC CEO Yvonne Johnston told Sapa that questions from business people in Germany and the UK had focused on black economic empowerment (BEE) and business opportunities in SA.

IMC CEO Yvonne Johnston

IMC CEO Yvonne Johnston

“We pointed out how BEE had expanded economic participation from all the peoples in South Africa and thus contributed to stability,” Johnston told Sapa.

“A small but expanding black middle class is already making an important contribution to economic growth.

“Over the next 10 years, BEE will continue to swell the ranks of the middle class, raise disposable incomes, reduce unemployment and increase domestic savings.”

Johnston said the delegation made presentations on “the rich potential of doing business in South Africa … Investing in South Africa allows companies to reach a customer base of more than 170 million people in our immediate region and another 550 million people on the continent of Africa.”

According to Johnston, there is a growing interest in South Africa from investors abroad. “Investors see enormous potential – a stable democracy with sophisticated infrastructure and sound macro-economic policies. The Barclays-Absa deal has emphasised our country’s growing stature in the global financial world.

Johnston said that Germany and the United Kingdom had been selected for the IMC’s latest overseas roadshow because they were SA’s biggest trading partners. “Our objective was to consolidate that position and explore the opportunities for further growth in two of the world’s biggest economies.”

SA business heavyweights
The IMC delegation included 2010 World Cup Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan, Business Unity SA CEO Bheki Sibiya, Airports Company SA CEO Monhla Hlahla, and JSE Securities Exchange CEO Russell Loubser.

The leader of some of SA’s biggest companies and multinationals were also on board, among them Old Mutual Plc CEO Jim Sutcliffe, Siemens SA’s Klaus Doring, African Harvest MD Ethan Dube, Metallon chairman Mzi Khumalo, and Goldman Sachs International’s Lesley Maasdorp.

Business Unity CEO Bheki Sibiya said he had informed European audiences of the huge potential in doing business with the South African SMME sector. “There are an estimated three million small businesses operating in South Africa, and they play a vital role in wealth and job creation,” Sibiya said.

2010 World Cup Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan said there would be considerable global interest in South Africa over the next five years. “This visit has introduced the European business community to the numerous opportunities that are opening up for new ventures and investments,” Jordaan said.

The full IMC delegation:

  • Klaus Doring (Siemens South Africa)
  • Ethan Dube (MD, African Harvest)
  • Hischam El-Agamy (director, IMD International)
  • Jennifer Feinberg (Industrial Development Corporation)
  • Monhla Hlahla (CEO, Airports Company SA)
  • Yvonne Johnston (CEO, IMC)
  • Danny Jordaan (CEO, 2010 World Cup Organising Committee)
  • Mzi Khumalo (chairman, Metallon)
  • Chris Landsberg (director, Centre for Policy Studies)
  • Russell Loubser (CEO, JSE Securities Exchange)
  • Wendy Luhabe (chair, IMC)
  • Lesley Maasdorp (Goldman Sachs International)
  • Mpho Makwana (regional executive, Standard Bank)
  • Thabo Masebe (chief director, Government Communications)
  • Mfanu Mfayela (CEO, SA Contact Centre Community)
  • Raisibi Morathi (COO, Industrial Development Corporation)
  • Seth Phalatse (board member, Denel)
  • Bheki Sibiya (CEO, Business Unity SA)
  • Monica Singer (CEO, Strate)
  • Michael Spicer (executive director, SA Foundation)
  • Jim Sutcliffe (CEO, Old Mutual Plc) reporter