Patrice Motsepe. Picture: Robert Tshabalala
Patrice Motsepe. Picture: Robert Tshabalala

THE Motsepe Foundation may have about R283m a year to dish out to worthy causes after a pledge by billionaire Patrice Motsepe to give away half the money generated by his assets.

Mr Motsepe, a lawyer by training who started building his mining business in 1994 and used opportunities created by BEE laws to build mining house African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), is worth more than R20bn. According to Forbes, he is number 442 on the world’s list of billionaires.

Although he and his wife, Precious Moloi-Motsepe, declined to say how much money they aim to give away annually, Mr Motsepe earned an estimated R418.93m in dividends from his 41.05% stake in ARM, plus R148.36m from 5.92% of Sanlam.

The calculations are based on Mr Motsepe’s disclosed stakes in JSE-listed investments as calculated for the Sunday Times Rich List in March 2012 by research company Who Owns Whom. Should they pay out at least half of the dividends to the Motsepe Foundation, as they pledged this week, the foundation would have received about R283.6m last year from their listed investments.

However, this excludes any stakes the Motsepes hold in unlisted investments, notably African Fashion International, which owns and hosts fashion weeks in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and soccer club Mamelodi Sundowns. Mr Motsepe serves on at least 39 company boards, and while most are related to his work at ARM, the family is likely to earn more dividends from his other unlisted companies.

ARM makes most of its money from its 50% stake in iron ore and manganese miner Assore. It also has interests in copper, coal, platinum and chrome.

Mr Motsepe, a regular donor to the ANC and Cosatu, religious groups and traditional leaders, said the foundation will focus on health and education, preferring initiatives and projects that will assist the beneficiaries to become self-sustaining and independent.

While the foundation’s website has limited information on the projects and funds distributed to date, it states that ARM handed over a church in Nkandla to President Jacob Zuma’s wife MaKhumalo last year. The foundation’s partners include the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Government Communication and Information Systems, the Business Women’s Association, Graca Machel Trust and Sanlam. ARM’s empowerment trust has distributed R95m to date.

The Motsepes said they will become the first billionaire family outside the US to sign Bill Gates’s Giving Pledge.

Signatories of the Giving Pledge, where billionaires promise to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes and charities of their choice, include Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Pretoria-born Elon Musk, founder of PayPal and electric car company Tesla Motors.

* This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times