Ramaphosa Quitw Lonmin Board to Avoid Interest ConflictMike Cohen and Jaco Visser
Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision not to stand for re-election as a director of companies including Lonmin Plc diminishes possible conflicts of interest after he was chosen as deputy leader of South Africa’s ruling party.
Ramaphosa told Lonmin, the world’s third-biggest platinum producer, that he won’t be available for a new term at the annual general meeting on Jan. 31, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement today. He will also step down as joint chairman of Mondi Group, South Africa’s biggest maker of office paper, on May 3, the company said in a statement.
“The market isn’t surprised by his resignations,” Jacques Theron, a portfolio manager who helps oversee $1.2 billion at Absa Asset Management Private Clients, said by phone from Johannesburg. “There could always have been a conflict-of-interest issue if Ramaphosa stayed on.”
The 60-year-old former labor union leader is reviewing his business interests after being elected deputy president of the African National Congress in December. His selection in that vote makes him the fron-runner to succeed Jacob Zuma as the nation’s president in 2019. Ramaphosa is the richest black South African after his brother-in-law, Patrice Motsepe, according to the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times newspaper.
A former secretary-general of the ANC, Ramaphosa built up a business empire in a career away from politics since 1996. Shanduka Group Ltd., an investment company he founded, owns stakes in MTN Group Ltd., Bidvest Ltd., Standard Bank Group Ltd., and Liberty Group Ltd. and has the McDonald’s Corp. franchise in South Africa.
Ramaphosa is chairman of MTN, Africa’s largest mobile phone operator. The company will deal with the matter in due course, spokesman Xolisa Vapi said by phone today.
“The review of existing positions, responsibilities and obligations is necessary to address any potential conflicts of interest, and to ensure that I can adequately perform the responsibilities of my new position,” Ramaphosa said in an e-mailed statement. The review is ongoing, he said.
Ramaphosa also owns a direct stake in Ivanplats Ltd., the Canadian mining company founded by billionaire Robert Friedland, and sits on the boards of brewer SABMiller Plc and lender Standard Bank.
The rand strengthened 1.1 percent against the dollar the day Ramaphosa, who is also the chairman of Bidvest, was elected at the ruling party’s elective conference in Bloemfontein last month. He was the deputy head of the commission that wrote the country’s National Development Plan detailing investments in Africa’s biggest economy over the next 20 years.
Lonmin shares fell 1.7 percent to 331.30 pence as of 3:14 p.m. in London. Mondi rose 1.1 percent to 101.34 rand by the close in Johannesburg.