JOHANNESBURG - Step away from the crowd, look, see what no-one else is noticing - and that is where you can find what everyone is searching for.
This is Jim Rogers’ key to success. He should know, he is a US dollar billionaire, one of the world’s foremost financial analysts and commentators and an author.
Rogers is increasingly bullish about investing across Africa and emerging markets.
Rogers, 74, has investments in many countries. One of his most recent is into a Hong Kong-listed coal mine in Indonesia.
He was scoffed at, while the rest of the world is moving away from fossil-fuels, that one of the world’s most savvy investment seers had bought into a coal mine.
In typical Rogers fashion, he had his finger on the pulse. His reckoning is that there will still be a need for coal.
It will take many decades for the world to run completely on renewable energy. He is also on record saying that he invests in “good coal” which is less harmful.
In an interview with the South China Morning Post, owned by Jack Ma, founder and executive chairperson of Alibaba Group, he is quoted as saying coal has a potential upside in the age of clean energy.
“All coal is bad to the public and to the press, which is not correct,” he said. “All coal can be clean, even though it may be expensive you put in the time, effort and money to make it better.”
Rogers graduated from Yale, with a BA in history and a degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford University. He and one of the world’s most wealthiest men, George Soros, co-founded the Quantum Fund in 1970. They worked together for a decade, making sure the fund’s value increased by 40 times.
Rogers was 37, very wealthy and adventurous. He took a sabbatical, donned a motorcycle helmet and travelled the world.
Trailblazing, as usual, he sold up in New York more than a decade ago and moved his wife and two daughters to Singapore.
The move was partly driven by the prediction that China will be the most powerful country in the world this century. When taken together, China’s gross domestic product and Purchasing Power Parity is greater than the US.
His move was confirmation in his belief in the rise of Asia as an economic giant. But his investments stretch beyond Asia, reaching into Africa.
He believes that Africa is the next growth story. In a telephonic interview, Rogers said there were many investment opportunities in Africa.
His first investment into the continent was during the seventies, when economies started opening up.
“Millions of Africans did not have bank accounts, so I invested in the banking sector,” he said.
Subsequently he invested in mines and a range of different industries.
He has a proviso, he only invests in publicly traded companies, and prefers companies started by gutsy-entrepreneurs.
How has he been finding his most recent investment opportunities? Sometimes entrepreneurs find him. For others he surfs the internet.
“I find the most successful entrepreneurs and make them offers. I find them, because they are increasingly visible because of the Internet.”
Rogers recently invested in a small mutual fund in Zimbabwe.
“There are 54 countries in Africa, there are always investment opportunities.”
He is excited at the immense opportunities in many sectors, which goes beyond mining and finance.
He has set his sights on the tourism and agricultural sectors, but is open to any other investment opportunity.
African tourism has a great future, he says. Many people from Asia are excited to visit Africa, after decades of fear.
He is keen on agriculture, but he says no one should expect him to buy a farm - because he is not a farmer.
But he could invest in the agricultural value chain, even in fertiliser he says.
He also sees technology as a great enabler for the African economy to grow.
Rogers is emphatic, find him an opportunity that is operating under the radar, run by a smart entrepreneur, where stock is publicly traded, and chances are, he could invest.
Jim Rogers is a billionaire, one of the world’s foremost financial analysts and commentators and an author.