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15 CEOs to watch in 2015: Daniel Matjila

15 CEOs to watch in 2015: Daniel Matjila

Daniel Matjila, CEO, Public Investment Corporation, South Africa
 
A former mathematics professor, Daniel Matjila – known in the industry as “Dr Dan” – was a popular choice to run one of Africa’s most important financial institutions.

Matjila stepped up from chief investment officer of South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation to take on the chief executive’s role in December, taking control of a century-old, 1.6tr rand ($139bn) fund.

Heading the PIC is never an easy role. Around 90% of its funds under management come from state worker pensions, meaning that it has huge social and political pressure to deliver returns without taking significant risks. In the past, this has translated into conservatism, but during Matjila’s tenure as CIO under former CEO Elias Masilela, the fund has pushed heavily into alternative assets and increased its exposure to the rest of Africa – although it is limited by local regulations from investing more than 10% of its assets outside of its home base.

As a large investor, PIC has shown itself to be a potent activist for corporate governance in its portfolio companies. As Ecobank’s biggest investor, PIC took a strong stance on its leadership. Matjila was central in preventing Chile’s CFR Pharmaceuticals from buying out Adcock Ingram, the South African drug maker in 2014. Reports stated it intended to create a second fund with investment partners Phoenix Capital Management of Côte d’Ivoire to focus on SMEs, real estate, mining and energy.

Aware of the dual social and economic role investors need to play in South Africa, and the continent, Matjila has talked extensively about investing in development. With growth slowing and investor confidence shaken, Matjila’s PIC has the capacity and expertise to lead by example.

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