JSE still off black ownership target

2010-09-01 17:12

Johannesburg - Black ownership of JSE-listed companies is still a way off the 2017 target of 25%, as set out by government's regulations on black economic empowerment (BEE).

At present, about 18% of available share capital of JSE-listed companies is owned by blacks, according to a study conducted by the stock exchange. This figure has been calculated according to requirements set out by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

It is based on BEE shareholdings and excludes any retail investors, as there is no available data on the race of individuals who invest.

The 18% ownership figure is not far from the 25% target set out by government, but digging deeper, the picture looks a little different.

Firstly, the JSE's research found that only 8% of the top 100 companies, which together make up 85% of the bourse's market share, were actually directly owned by black people.

However, the research team subtracted cross ownerships, state-held shares, shares housed in collective investments and shares held in the foreign operations of JSE-listed companies. This left 44% of the total JSE share capital available for ownership, which was then divided by the 8% held directly by black people resulting in 18%. 

"Yes, 8% is the true value of ownership and all the other figures are derived, but it doesn't make them any less valid," said Loubser. 

Loubser declined to comment on which figure of black ownership - 8% or 18% - was a truer reflection of how the wealth in South Africa's private sector was divided.

"This is a complicated issue and there's no simple answer, it has to be taken into context," he said.

"If I give you a simple answer, somebody out there is going to manipulate it."

Loubser also explained a third element to black ownership in South Africa - once foreign ownership of JSE shares is subtracted from the total market share, the percentage of shares owned by black people rises to 36%.

Meanwhile, while this research gives some valuable insight into the division of local wealth, Loubser said that it was all just "a small part of a bigger picture".

"We should also consider who owns private companies - especially the ones that our ministers have stakes in," he said.