Pepkor magnate Christo Wiese says it is much exaggerated that he is a billionaire, but the media seem convinced of it. There doesn’t seem to be a realisation among members of the media that a balance sheet is made up of assets and liabilities. They ignore the liabilities.
But he said the belief among media practitioners that he enjoyed vast wealth put them among good company: his wife also believed he was extremely rich.
At the Cape Town Press Club yesterday, Wiese told a story about a young girl who studied at Stellenbosch University. After a long break, she wrote to her parents.
Did they remember the electric heater that they had given her? “I left it in my room… the curtains caught fire, half of the residence burnt down.” The university had come up with the unreasonable demand that her father should pay for the damages.
“That is not all… remember my boyfriend? Well, the security police arrested him last week because it turned out that he was a member of the Wit Wolwe… But, regrettably, that is not where it stops. Only last week I found out that I was pregnant with his child.”
On page two of the letter she said: “All these things I have written on the first page… none of it is true. I decided to write it so you could appreciate that there are things in life much worse than not passing Economics I.”
Wiese made the point that South Africans had an image problem, yet the country had produced “the most lauded statesman in his time, Nelson Mandela”. Nevertheless, the Oxfam image of starving children and flies prevailed.
He called on white people to stop looking at South Africa negatively. “South Africa looks very different from the one we left behind in 1994.” South Africans must build on their social solidarity and build a caring society. It is all about perceptions after all, isn’t it?
While US Federal Reserve governor Ben Bernanke is effectively running the US printing press and has billions of dollars at his disposal, he is poorer than his deputy, Jane Yellen, according to CNN Money.
Yellen is considered a front runner to replace Bernanke, who is expected to retire when his second term ends in January next year.
Reporting on financial disclosure forms released on Tuesday, CNN said all seven members of the Federal Reserve board of governors had assets worth more than $1 million (R10.4m).
Bernanke was “at the low end of the wealth list, with assets of between $1.1m and $2.3m”, CNN said, while Yellen’s disclosure form put her wealth at between $4.8m and $13.2m.
CNN noted that the disclosure forms presented the figures in ranges, so more specific values were not available.
“The other front runner to succeed Bernanke, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, has not been required to complete a disclosure form since leaving the government. But the former White House adviser’s most recent filing, made in 2009, showed a range of assets worth between $17m and $39m,” CNN said, quoting Bloomberg.
According to CNN, former private equity heavyweight Jerome Powell appeared to have the biggest bankroll of the current Fed governors.
“The former Carlyle Group partner had a top-end estimate of nearly $50m. The remaining governors – Jeremy Stein, Elizabeth Duke, Sarah Bloom Raskin and Daniel Tarullo – all posted disclosure forms indicating wealth of at least $1m, but no more than $12m.”
Commenting on some of the oddities that were reported by Fed officials, CNN said: “Financial statements released from 2010 show Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher owned more than 7 000 acres of land, $1m in gold and as much as $250 000 in uranium.”
Pay TV competition
MultiChoice, the home of South Africa’s DStv subscription broadcasting platform, faced resistance from competitors in Kenya, where the broadcaster stood accused of perpetuating the same anti-competitive behaviour as it was being investigated for at home, South African rival Top TV has alleged.
Wananchi Group, which broadcasts Zuku TV, has reportedly complained to the Kenyan competition authorities about MultiChoice’s exclusive rights to premium sports content.
“For the market as a whole this has been catastrophic since consumer choice for premium sports is constrained,” Richard Bell, Wananchi Group’s chief executive, told Business Report yesterday.
The pay-TV market had become tough as a result, but Zuku was fortunate to be well funded with a diversified portfolio of services, Bell stated.
It was able to provide bandwidth-demanding services such as high-speed internet access and television, and voice over internet protocol telephone services.
“It is a tragedy that this continues as a result of Africa being the only continent in the world where such [a] practice is allowed to progress unabated without any real intervention by the various competition authorities,” Bell added.
Wananchi intended to confront regulators about why east Africa lacked measures that were in place in other markets where a wholesale/retail structure prevailed. In these markets, operators that owned exclusive content were required to sell the channels on a wholesale basis to all pay-TV platforms other than their own.
Kenya’s competition authorities did not respond to inquiries.
MultiChoice said it was unaware of the Wananchi complaint and added: “Anybody is free to bid for the rights.”
South Africa’s Competition Commission could not comment on progress in its investigation into MultiChoice.
Edited by Banele Ginindza. With contributions by Donwald Pressly, Ethel Hazelhurst, and Asha Speckman.