Marsh in a display of BEE power

Forget the black economic empowerment (BEE) deal announced by insurance broking and risk management giant Marsh yesterday. Focus on the intellectual muscle boasted by the BEE partner in the deal. Certainly, you will be awed by the makeup of Kapela Holdings.

The US based giant, Marsh, announced that Kapela has taken 13% stake in its South African operation.

One of Kapela’s directors, Israel Skosana, takes over as chairman of Marsh SA. Therein begins the story of Kapela’s massive firepower, its intellectual capital.

Skosana is a well known corporate animal with career stretching back to the 1970’s inside the then leading computer technology firm IBM. A qualified chartered accountant he developed to become one of the most respected corporate leaders in South Africa defying the apartheid obstacles.

Skosana’s profile posted in Kapela’s website, presumably written or approved by him, spares no accolades. But then he does not have to try hard to impress. “Israel has extensive management and leadership experience, and was the first Black person to be appointed as an Executive Director of ABSA Bank. He has held various management posts at Anglo American, IBM, Deloitte & NSB. Israel is currently a non-executive director of Transnet, and he also serves on the Council of the University of Pretoria. He is also a member of several Audit Committees. Israel is the past CEO of SA Express Airways and SARHWU Investment Holdings, and was the first Chairman of the South African Civil Aviation Authority. By appointment of the State President, he served 2 terms as a Commercial Member of the Special Tax Courts. He is a Founder Member and past President of the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of Southern Africa (ABASA), and was an Honorary Professor in the Department of Accounting and Financial Management at the University of Pretoria. Israel has featured on the list of ‘Who’s Who of Southern Africa’ for a number of years”.

Apologies, dear reader, for that thick quote. We normally don’t operate like this but then in this case the point is better made by words written or approved by the man himself. But wait, Skosana is just a piece of this massive professional firepower. The makeup of Kapela is interesting in featuring pure professionals, a type which seems to have struggled to find a place within the BEE arrangement. As such Kapela represents a somewhat subservice paradigm within the post 1994 economic redistribution poser, BEE.

Kapela’s full team features former CE of Absa unsecured lending cluster, Daphne Motsepe, former CEO of the Saab Grintek Group Makhup Nyama, well decorated industrial psychologist Fatima Abrahams, Claudia de Villiers a qualified CA with extensive corporate finance track record, former joint CEO of Ernst & Young Management Consulting Henry Staal and former Managing Partner of Ernst & Young Corporate Finance Johan Kritzinger.

Jurie Erwee, the CEO of Marsh Africa may be used to enforce our point. “We are delighted with the decision by Kapela Holdings to invest in Marsh South Africa. Israel Skosana and the team at Kapela have a strong track record of making significant contributions to the businesses they invest in”.

Commenting on the Marsh deal Skosana said “Marsh is an exciting investment for Kapela. At Kapela, we take a hands-on approach to our businesses and aim to add value by contributing executive management experience and bringing significant corporate relationships to the fore. We are also excited by the opportunity of furthering Marsh South Africa’s already strong commitment to BEE.”

Kapela describes itself as a majority black owned business comprising professionals aimed at creating value through active involvement in its investees. Kapela says it targets investments in large businesses with high growth potential where a meaningful contribution can be made by the management team which has extensive and varied experience in the business environment. “In its quest to empower the formerly disadvantaged, Kapela has teamed up with DEC (Disability Empowerment Concerns Trust), a broad based empowerment trust made up of NGOs whose 2 million beneficiaries are South Africans with disabilities, of which 85% are black and 50% black women”.

As such Erwee’s statement that Skosana and the team at Kapela have a strong track record of making significant contributions to the businesses they invest in, should not be confused with the usually meaningless corporate speak.

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