South Africa must make progress on structural reforms before banks like Goldman Sachs Group can help draw foreign capital to the country.
“To the extent that these changes do happen, the ability of investors to ramp up their involvement in this economy is very significant,” Jonathan Penkin, the Wall Street firm’s head of sub-Saharan Africa, said in an interview in Johannesburg. “At the moment they’re taking a bit of a wait-and-see approach.”
While President Cyril Ramaphosa repeatedly talks of the challenges facing the moribund economy, he has yet to deliver the overhaul business leaders say is needed to resuscitate growth. He has baulked at plans to rescue South African Airways and has little to show on addressing Eskom’s debt, or other measures, such as the sale of telecommunications spectrum and easing an onerous visa regime.
Greater confidence among CEOs in the economy would help spur investment by domestic companies, said Penkin, who replaced Colin Coleman at the end of 2019.
The US lender, which has a 20-year history of providing advisory services in the country, can plug into its global network to help bring more foreign capital into country, he said.
“While I wouldn’t say it’s going to happen tomorrow, if there is an economy in which investors would be delighted to jump back in with both feet, more than in most other emerging markets globally, it’s South Africa,” Penkin said. “That’s because I think the companies and managements by-and-large remain of incredibly high quality.” — Reported by Roxanne Henderson and Amogelang Mbatha, (c) 2020 Bloomberg LP