Reg Rumney

Swings and roundabouts

Barclays Bank's potential purchase of a controlling stake in Absa puts into perspective parochial talk of ''big empowerment deals''. The R20-billion bandied about as the price is almost the total spent on black economic empowerment (BEE) deals in 2003. That a foreign bank wants to put such serious money into a South African operation supports the view that BEE does not necessarily deter foreign direct investment.

One person, four managers

The SABC has more managers and supervisors than staff, which may partly explain why it produced a meagre profit of R3,4-million from turnover of R2,7-billion for the year to end-March. The SABC's return on total assets for the period was a measly 0,2%. Privatisation of the SABC's commercial arm would reduce absurdly inflated staff costs and bring other efficiencies, reckons Reg Rumney.

How broad-based is BEE?

The criticism that one of the biggest Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) deals ever has elicited must have taken its architects by surprise. The Standard Bank BEE deal is worth about R4,1-billion. Yet the spotlight has fallen on the ''enrichment'' of the two BEE players who benefit from the remaining 40%, Saki Macozoma's Safika and Cyril Ramaphosa's Millennium Consolidated Investments companies.

The art of the small deal

If you judged the world by newspaper headlines, black economic empowerment (BEE) is all about gargantuan deals with complex financing and titanic battles between white and black groups in charter negotiations over equity targets. Unfortunately, this fixation on the ''Art of the Deal'' neglects the many small shifts at every level that are gradually changing the colour of South African business.

Redistribute opportunity first

The challenge to the government for the next 10 years will be to manage expectations of the new, sometimes already empowered, black middle class for radical redistribution of ownership. Yet it must at the same time ensure that its BEE strategy does indeed change the colour of a growing economy rather than sprinkling a few black millionaires on top of a white business sector.

True empowerment is no privatisation party

Judging by the publicity of Telkom's sale of shares to the general public, its ''retail offering'' was a tremendous black empowerment success. If you were looking at the continuing privatisation of Telkom from the point of view of ''broad-based'' black economic empowerment, however, you would be justified in asking, ''What is the big deal?'' writes Reg Rumney.

A case of crossed wires

President Thabo Mbeki's stinging attack on South African domestic chemical and synthetic-fuel company Sasol suggests the long-standing gulf of misunderstanding persists between established, white business and the government.

Business has one voice — but it’s not speaking clearly

Who speaks for business? The creation recently of the overarching business body that enables, so it is thought, black and white business to speak with one voice means this question begs to be asked. Executive director of Businessmap Foundation Reg Rumney puts his ear to the floor.

The big car price conundrum

South African motorists -- and would-be motorists -- are aggrieved. Car prices continue to outpace inflation, despite the international purchasing power of the rand improving last year.

The brand is dead, long live the brand

It may seem heavy-handed that SABMiller and Coca-Cola sued the makers of T-shirts that mocked one of their brands. But it is the logical step for companies that believe passionately that the brand is the business.

SA ‘dogged by image problems’

The role of incentives in attracting foreign direct investment — long-term committed capital as opposed to volatile investments in bonds and equities — to Southern Africa is negligible. The size of the market is more important, and strong domestic economic growth may be a precursor to higher levels of such investment.

An old-fashioned form of charity

The highlight of the past year for those involved in corporate social investment must have been a business-sponsored project making it on to the front page of a major financial magazine.

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