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South Africa Ex-Central Bank Chief Mboweni Weighs Aviation Foray

Tito Mboweni, who served two terms as South Africa’s first black central bank governor, said he may follow a planned investment in iron ore mining with forays into aviation and mobile communications technology businesses.

Mboweni, 52, would do the deals through Mboweni Brothers, which he set up with relatives and friends as a “vehicle through which we can generate business ideas and enter into partnerships,” he said in an interview yesterday.

Labor Minister in Nelson Mandela’s cabinet, Mboweni was a member of the ruling African National Congress’s national executive committee, the party’s highest decision-making body. Mboweni is non-executive chairman of AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (ANG), the world’s third-largest gold producer, and an international adviser to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) He quit the South African Reserve Bank in 2009.

“When I left the bank, I received too many proposals and I didn’t have a vehicle,” Mboweni said in Johannesburg.

Ferrox Holdings Ltd., based in the British Virgin Islands, said last week it signed a memorandum of understanding to sell a stake of as much as a 20 percent to Mboweni’s company for $32 million, part of plans to raise $150 million for the Tivani iron-ore project in South Africa’s northern Limpopo province.

Mboweni follows former ANC officials Cyril Ramaphosa and Tokyo Sexwale into the mining industry. Ramaphosa founded Shanduka Group, whose interests include coal mines in a venture with Glencore International Plc, while Sexwale’s Mvelaphanda Holdings Ltd. has held interests in platinum and diamond mining.

While the deal with Ferrox is an initial agreement subject to due diligence, Mboweni said he has started talks on fundraising, adding it would be in tranches over several years.

‘Pursue Opportunities’

The former governor and a relative, Alto Mboweni, are founding members of Mboweni Brothers. Friends have joined the two in the business, the ex-central banker said, declining to identify them.

“It’s early days and we don’t have any clearly defined ambitions, just to pursue opportunities as and when they arise,” he said “We just wouldn’t like it to be spread too wide.”

Mboweni Brothers may look at secondary areas of aviation. “There are many areas in aviation such as equipment handling, luggage handling back-up equipment, and so on,” he said. Mobile communication is an area of “massive growth,” he said, declining to go into detail.

Mboweni said he’d like to increase his contribution to the ANC, where he remains a member. He spent a decade in exile, getting military training in Angola before moving to ANC headquarters in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, in the 1980s to research economic policy.

After the ban on the ANC was lifted by the white-minority National Party government in 1990, he joined the ANC’s economic policy unit in Johannesburg, working with Trevor Manuel, who became finance minister in 1996 after the end of apartheid, and Maria Ramos, now chief executive officer of Absa Bank Ltd.

To contact the reporter on this story: Carli Lourens in Johannesburg at clourens@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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