Alexander Forbes: Partner up

07 October 2016

First it was Phuthuma Nhleko, then Cyril Ramaphosa. Now Alexander Forbes’s love affair with high-profile black businessmen as its BEE partner continues with Patrice Motsepe.

Motsepe is the chairman of African Rainbow Capital (ARC), which has bought 10% of Alexander Forbes Ltd.

This is not the listed vehicle but a specially created holding company that excludes the UK and European businesses. The main UK asset is actuarial consultant LCP.

"We consider ourselves to be an Africa-focused group," says Forbes CEO Andrew Darfoor, and so does ARC.

"LCP is a good asset but non-core, so it is irrelevant to our new partnership with ARC."

The good news for Forbes is that, unlike many other empowerment deals it could have concluded, there is no need for special-purpose vehicles or to wait several years to get paid.

ARC is cash flush and happily wrote a cheque for R753m.

Darfoor says Forbes is highly cash generative with negligible gearing, so it didn’t need the money urgently, but the new cash will form part of its war chest as it expands into Africa.

Darfoor is not worried about ARC’s connections to Sanlam (where Motsepe is deputy chairman), even though the life office competes in core areas such as pension-fund administration, multimanagement and financial planning.

"We place a lot of business with Sanlam and they place a lot of business with us," he says. "We’ve learnt to both co-operate and compete for many years."

ARC co-CEO Johan van Zyl calls the investment in Forbes a great base and foundation for expansion into Africa, which the company plans to do over 10 to 20 years.

Other ARC investee companies include broker Indwe Risk Services, health group AfroCentric and asset manager Colourfield, which is a breakaway from Forbes.

ARC also owns 20% of the Val de Vie luxury estate.