AESP: Tycoon of the Week is South Africa’s Patrice Tlhopane Motsepe

 

Patrice Tlhopane Motsepe  is a South African mining magnate. He is the founder and executive chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, which has interests in gold, ferrous metals, base metals, and platinum. He also sits on several company boards including being the non-executive chairman of Harmony Gold, the 12th largest gold mining company in the world, and is the deputy chairman of Sanlam. In 2012, Motsepe was named South Africa’s richest man, topping the Sunday Times’ annual Rich List with an estimated fortune of R20.07 billion ($2.4 billion).

In 2003, he became the owner of football club Mamelodi Sundowns.

In 2013, he joined The Giving Pledge, committing to give half his wealth to charitable causes.

 

Career

Patrice was born to Augustine Motsepe, a schoolteacher turned small businessman, who owned a Spaza shop popular with black mine workers. It was from this shop that Motsepe learned basic business principles from his father as well as first hand exposure to mining.

He earned a bachelor of arts at the University of Swaziland and a law degree from the University of the Witwatersrand and became the first black partner in the law firm Bowman Gilfillan in 1994, the same year Nelson Mandela was elected the country’s first black president. He specialised in mining and business law at a time when the new government had begun the process of promoting black empowerment and entrepreneurship. Motsepe founded a company called Future Mining, which provided contract mining services that included the cleaning of gold dust from inside mine shafts, for the Vaal Reefs Gold mine, implementing a system of worker remuneration that combined a low base salary with a profit-sharing bonus.

In 1997, with gold prices at a low, he purchased marginal gold mines from AngloGold under favourable finance terms. AngloGold sold Motsepe six gold mine shafts for $7,7million allowing him to repay the debt out of the future earnings of the company now known as African Rainbow Minerals.

This was repeated in a string of deals and Motsepe set up a firm to begin buying the operating mines that would become the source of his wealth. In 1999 he teamed up with two of his associates to form Greene and Partners Investments.

The Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) laws introduced after the 1994 elections have been instrumental in cementing Motsepe’s position in the mining industry in South Africa. A business must have a minimum of 26% black ownership to be considered for a mining license.

Motsepe won South Africa’s Best Entrepreneur Award in 2002. In 2004 he was voted 39th in the SABC3’s Great South Africans (SABC being South African Broadcasting Corporation, the government funded state broadcaster). In 2008 he was 503rd richest person in the world, according to the Forbes World Billionaires List.

Since 2004, he has been a non-executive director of Absa Group and Sanlam.

In 2002 when it was listed on the JSE Security Exchange, African Rainbow Minerals joined with Harmony Gold Mining Ltd. and the company’s name changed to ARMgold. Motsepe is also the founder of African Rainbow Minerals Platinum (Proprietary) Limited and ARM Consortium Limited, which later equally split ownership with Anglo American Platinum Corp Ltd. From 2005, Motsepe was Chairman of Teal Exploration and Mining Incorporated. Motsepe is also chairman of Ubuntu-Botho Investments, Non-Executive chairman of Harmony Gold Mining Co Ltd. and deputy Chairman of Sanlam Ltd. Motsepe has been president of South Africa’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He is currently the interim chairman of the Black Business Council and is a founding member and former president of one of South Africa’s most influential business advocacy and lobby group Business Unity SA (BUSA).

Motsepe and Ubuntu-Botho Investments is to partner with insurance and financial services company Sanlam to found a private equity firm with a focus on African investments.

 

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