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Mandela’s Former Minister May Consider Aviation, Tech Deals

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Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s first black central bank governor, Tito Mboweni, may study communication-technology and aviation deals to add to an initial accord signed last week to buy a stake in an iron-ore mine from Ferrox Holdings Ltd.

The former governor and Labor Minister in Nelson Mandela’s cabinet is looking for projects to add to his Mboweni Brothers company, 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 in Johannesburg.

“When I left the bank, I received too many proposals and I didn’t have a vehicle,” said Mboweni, 52, who served two terms before retiring from the South African Reserve Bank in 2009.

Mboweni follows former African National Congress officials Cyril Ramaphosa and Tokyo Sexwale into mining. Ramaphosa founded Shanduka Group, with interests including coal mines in a venture with Glencore International Plc, while Sexwale’s Mvelaphanda Holdings Ltd. has held stakes in platinum and diamonds. Ferrox, based in the British Virgin Islands, said it signed a memorandum of understanding to sell as much as 20 percent for $32 million.

Mboweni is already non-executive chairman of AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., the world’s third-largest gold producer, and an international adviser to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The Ferrox deal is part of its plans to raise $150 million for the Tivani iron-ore project in South Africa’s northern Limpopo province.

Fundraising Talks

The former governor has begun talks on fundraising for the project, expected through separate tranches over several years, before due diligence is completed following the initial accord.

“I’ve been to the site,” he said. “It seems that the resource is quite good,” based on initial studies. The site may yield 2.5 million metric tons a year of iron ore concentrate and as much as 800,000 tons a year of ilmenite, Ferrox said Jan. 11.

“It’s early days and we don’t have any clearly defined ambitions, just to pursue opportunities as and when they arise,” he said. “There are many areas in aviation such as equipment handling, luggage handling back-up equipment and so on.” Mobile telecommunications is an area of “massive growth,” he said, declining to elaborate on the plans.

Mboweni, who spent a decade in exile gaining military training in Angola before moving to Zambia’s capital of Lusaka in the 1980s to study economic policy, would like to increase his involvement with the ANC, he said. He remains a member.

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

Alto Mboweni, the former governor’s cousin, is a founding member of the Mboweni Brothers investment holding company.

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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