David Shapiro: JSE Report

MONEYWEB, BY ALEC HOGG, 6 JANUARY 2003

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT: Happy new year to David Shapiro. Nice to have you in the studio on this first full-hour programme of 2003, David. Golds and platinum started the year with a bang.

DAVID SHAPIRO: Brilliant. Gold over $350 an ounce and platinum shot up to $608. And, despite the fact that the rand was quite strong today, down to R8.37, gold shares still sparkled, still ran ahead, and platinum shares also showed good running. Sadly, the resource market was dragged down by Anglos, Billiton and Sasol. But a good day for golds and platinum.

MONEYWEB: Big story of the day though is the resignation of Brian Gilbertson. He’s a man who doesn’t take kindly to fools, I suppose is the kindest way of putting it. He certainly is rather single minded in his approach to many things. Do you think that he just head-butted against the board once too often?

DAVID SHAPIRO: Probably. It came as a surprise, as a complete shock, maybe, to outsiders and I think that’s why the share price took the tumble that it did – down about 4%, I think about 3.5% in Australia. And I think investors don’t like uncertainty, they don’t know the new management. We’ve got to hand it to Brian – I remember there was a lot of scepticism when he took Gencor into Billiton and then into BHP Billiton. But. together with the other team, he’s built the biggest resource company in the world. So I think there was a lot of support for Brian from outside shareholders for the growth part that he was taking, and they were good assets. So there’s this uncertainty now and I think it’s going to weigh on the share price until we get to learn what the new management is about.

MONEYWEB: We’ve taken a view here at Moneyweb that it’s a temporary blip on the horizon, and we’ve gone and closed out our position. Remember, we were short of Billiton in our Aids orphans portfolio. Well, we’ve made money, today we closed it out, taking advantage of that 4% decline, and we will talk to Arthur Buchner about that later. David, as far as the markets are concerned today, turnover today at R1.5bn rand – seems to be back to normal?

DAVID SHAPIRO: Very, very good. For the 6th January, where most people are away, I thought it was excellent. Very active were Nedbank and Standard Bank – unusual to find them trading as heavily as they did and they both put on good gains today. And of course it was the resource shares as well. But thought it was rather a good start to the year, and I hope we can keep up this pace.

MONEYWEB: One of the things I’ve kept myself busy with during the three weeks of bliss in being able to play a huge amount of golf and do what you like to do, as we usually do in this Christmas holiday, was to have a look at birthdays of executives – and you’re a man who knows most people in the business community. Today, Chris Thompson, chairman of Gold Fields Limited, turns 55, and Thabiso Tlelai, the chief executive of the Don Group, 39. It’s also the official first day at work for Rael Gordon, as the chief executive of the 45th biggest firm in South Africa, a R5bn company called Alexander Forbes. Rael is 34, not 35 yet. David, that’s got to be youngest, by some measure, the youngest CEO on the JSE.

DAVID SHAPIRO: Of a company of this size. Rael is an actuary. We always used to say that actuaries were very, very boring and yet, here’s Rael who’s actually running a company. It’s all right to find him in the back room, but I think he’s shown his management skills as well. And another actuary that’s also done exceptionally well is Alan Miller, who runs Stanlib today as well. Also a youngster, I don’t think he’s over 30, maybe in his very early 30s. So I think it seems to be the way to go, be an actuary. But I think Rael will come through very nicely, now running a company which has scored a big contract mid-December.

MONEYWEB: And he certainly belies that old joke of an actuary being someone who doesn’t have the personality to be an accountant.

DAVID SHAPIRO: Rael’s got personality.

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