South African billionaire pledges fortune to charity
12 January 2016
The decision by Allan Gray and his family to donate the profits from their entire
company assets to charity is an unprecedented move for the South African
investment company owner, according to Bloomberg.
It puts him in the company of American philanthropists Warren Buffett and Bill
Gates, who began the trend in 2011 that encourages billionaires to give the majority
of their wealth to philanthropic causes. In South Africa, Patrice Motsepe, the
chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, also pledged a percentage of his wealth to
charity in 2013.
Announcing the news in a letter to clients at the end of December 2015, Gray
stated that the donation will end more than 40 years of family control of the Allan
Gray investment company. The current equity value of the majority stake is
estimated to be billions of rands; all the money will be transferred to the Allan and
Gill Gray Foundation, to be managed for philanthropic endeavours, with
dividends from the company to be used exclusively for charitable endeavours in
South Africa and the rest of the world.
"The controlling interests (and almost all of the family's interests) have already
been transferred to the foundation," Allan Gray chairman Ian Liddle told
Business Day newspaper on 7 January 2016.
According to Forbes, Gray, who is 78, is a self-made billionaire. It ranked him
as the seventh-richest South African and
1 227th richest person in the world.
He founded his company in 1973 in Cape Town, turning it into the largest privately
owned asset manager in South Africa, overseeing $40-billion (R663-billion) in
The company was also South Africa's fourth-largest money manager in 2014,
according to an Alexander Forbes retirement investment survey. In 1989, Gray
founded Orbis Investment Management in Bermuda, which manages $30-billion.
This is not Gray's first venture into philanthropy; he founded the Allan Gray
Orbis Foundation in 2005, which invested $130-million into fellowship grants for
emerging business leaders, mostly from Africa. The foundation received 7% of the
taxed profits of Allan Gray Limited, Forbes reported.
The Orbis Foundation's scholarship and fellowship opportunities focus on
who will become high impact responsible entrepreneurs.
Individuals are selected on the basis of being willing and able to shape and
transform the future of the Southern African region. They must also be driven to
make a life-altering positive impact on the world around them.
The Allan and Gill Gray Foundation will follow the same principles, but broaden
"If we continue to do a good job for our clients and retain their trust and
confidence, we hope that the annual dividends will run to the hundreds of millions of
rands," Liddle told Bloomberg TV. Gray, he said, "wants our businesses to continue
to thrive and he thinks that this is a governance structure which will allow our
businesses to continue to thrive".
According to the Allan Gray company charter, the new foundation will devote all
the dividends, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of rands, to charitable
causes, particularly those that address education, health and social
Southern Africa and beyond.
"We consider this both the right thing to do and a small but necessary
contribution toward a society full of hope for all humanity," Gray said in his letter to
clients last month.
The reclusive South African billionaire, Allan Gray, announced at the end of December 2015 that the profits from his controlling stake in his eponymous asset management company will be made available to various charities and other philanthropic undertakings in South Africa and the world. (Image: The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation)