These are trying times, but hopefully, once the pandemic has exhausted itself, we will be living in a wiser world. The lockdown presents an opportunity to research new business and new markets to pursue when it lifts. To assist South African businesses in these difficult times, Who Owns Whom is offering a 50% discount on all industry reports purchased during this period. While it is a moving target, recently published industry reports cover the potential impact of the coronavirus on that industry and this will be the case for all newly published reports for the rest of the year. We have already prioritised those reports in our production line where industries may be most vulnerable to measures being taken to flatten the contagion curve. These include: Cargo Handling, Storage and Warehousing in South Africa Freight Forwarders in South Africa Manufacture of Electric Lamps and Lighting Equipment in South Africa Operation of Toll Roads Renting of Construction Equipment with or without Operator in South Africa Real Estate Activities in South Africa Retail trade in Second-hand Goods in Stores The Car Rental Industry Travel & Tourism: Travel Agencies, Tour Operators and Related Services The Textile Industry Stay safe The Who Owns Whom Team
Who Owns Whom (WOW) was established in 1980 when my late father, Robin McGregor, published the first book. While it will continue to be published in a digital format, the 40th edition, to be published next month, will be the last printed one. WOW has re-invented itself a number of times, and while ownership research remains a cornerstone, in the last 15 years we have built a substantial file on industries and companies in those industries with a primary focus on unlisted companies. In 2012 we did our first report outside South Africa – Telecoms in Kenya – and we now cover 70 industries in 46 countries on the continent outside of South Africa and have researched profiles on more than 4,000 companies operating in these countries. The Report Generator feature was introduced in 2016 and our latest offering via WOWEB is access to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) file of all South African registered companies. We are currently in final testing phase of a Dashboard which will run on WOWEB and allow users to customise research to be ‘pushed’ at them. Later in the year we will release Disclosure, a visualisation of linkages between people, companies and shareholders which is designed primarily as a risk and business development tool. The South African Construction Industry was the most viewed report in 2019 moving up from 4th place in 2018. Christo Wiese, the most viewed director in 2018, was only the fourth viewed last year. ABSA was the most viewed company last year after not featuring in the top 10 in 2018 and EOH moved from first in 2018 to second place last year.
In 2019 we successfully introduced the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC) data onto WOWEB, which gives users access to all registered companies in South Africa. While the information is limited and is provided by the company itself or an outsourced third party and has not been validated, it is useful to have access to the full South African business universe. If you do not have access to CIPC and would like to trial it, please let us know. Together with Amabhungane and the Helen Suzman Foundation, we have made considerable progress toward the introduction of legislation by the DTI for companies to disclose ultimate beneficial ownership to CIPC with their annual returns. This will enhance the CIPC data set considerably. We also have the support of Corruption Watch, the Financial Intelligence Centre and Business Leadership South Africa with this initiative. WOWEB now has ownership of 188 586 companies, full profiles of 18 875 companies and reports on 374 industries across Africa. This year we onboarded twenty four new clients, employed two additional researchers in our PE office and one in the JHB office and put two disabled learners through a year’s technology course via Afrika Tikkun. Carla has also employed a team of students to enhance our municipality data set during their holidays. If you are travelling over the festive season, please do so safely and may 2020 meet all your expectations.
South African imports from Africa have grown by a multiple of five to 12% of total imports since 1995 and its exports to the continent have almost doubled from 14% to 27% of total exports over the same period, positioning it second only to Asia as the major exporter to the continent. As such it is interesting that Who Owns Whom has recently had a number of report requests on the food and beverage, telecoms and energy industries in Angola, Eswatini, Kenya, and Mozambique. South Africa competes with Portugal for wine exports to Mozambique, and in 2017 imports of South African wine declined to 970,000 litres (45% was white, 30% red and 25% sparkling) from 1.2 million litres, according to statistics from SA Wine Industry Information and Systems. About 10% of the wine consumed by Angolans is South African. South Africa’s three biggest sugar companies, Illovo Sugar, Tongaat Hulett and RCL Foods, are heavily involved in the Eswatini sugar industry through co-ownerships in production estates and mills. While we are aware of the significant market share MTN has in Nigeria it also has a material footprint in Kenya as has Vodacom via Safaricom. Due to Sasol’s liquified natural gas operations in Mozambique, South Africa is the main trade partner for petroleum gas, and further funding models for industry infrastructure, such as private-public partnerships, are being implemented. In the pipeline arebanking sector reports on Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Already published is the banking sector in Angola. Following the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, it is forecast that 90% of trade on the continent could be duty-free by July 2020. That is the African opportunity.