Johannesburg-based black economic empowerment consultants – whose viewpoints are respected in South Africa – have lashed out at JSE’s survey which shows that 21 percent of the Top 100 Companies were held by black South Africans.

Ajay Lalu, the MD of Black Lite Consulting, told Ventures Africa the fact that black direct ownership had urged up slightly from last year’s numbers was an embarrassment to a country which has been in a democracy for more than 18 years.

“If you look at this closely, you will find that in fact fewer black people own shares on the JSE as the growth rate in the ALSI exceeds the growth rate of direct black participation in the JSE. The JSE All Share Index has been recording new highs in the past weeks,” Lalu said.

Roger Latchman, the CEO of PKF BEE Solutions, rejected JSE’s report, saying this was a “shocking, lean and low number.”

On Thursday morning, the JSE said black South Africans (Africans, Coloured and Indians) held at least 21 percent of the Top 100 Companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

The JSE said the 21 percent included 8.9 percent held directly, mostly through empowerment stakes.

“Do they want to tell me that only 9% of blacks are having a direct shareholding on the JSE? This number is shockingly low considering that blacks are a majority in the population,” Latchman said, calling for this number to be interrogated further.

The JSE added that 11.6 percent held the shareholding through mandated investments, such as pension funds and unit trusts.

Latchman said: “This 12 percent is shockingly low and it shows that black people still do not have control of our economy.”

He said this figure was so low that it was even nowhere near meeting the department of trade and industry target of 25 percent direct ownership.

The research was done in phases on behalf of the JSE. It aims to demonstrate what black South Africans own in the country’s largest listed corporations.

Nicky Newton-King, CEO of the JSE said this year’s study found a similar participation level among black and white South African investors – 21 percent and 22 percent of the Top 100 by value respectively.

“We also think one can assume that the black economic interest will continue climb in future and that this research provides a base for future measurement,” she said.

There has been much debate about black ownership on the JSE. The purpose of the study was to present the facts in an impartial manner, the JSE claimed on Thursday.

Last year’s assessment revealed that black South Africans held 8 percent of the Top 100 companies through direct investment.


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