OBITUARY: Allan Gray, titan of SA investment managers

Business

OBITUARY: Allan Gray, titan of SA investment managers

Founder of the firm that bears his name has died

Mark Herdman

It was with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of Allan William Buchanan Gray, founder of Allan Gray Ltd, the largest privately owned investment manager in SA – as well as of Allan Gray Australia and the international Orbis Group – with $39bn under management.

Gray was the most influential person in my career, as well as the careers of so many of my colleagues who have gone on to achieve remarkable success and make their names throughout the world in the investment management industry. Among them were the late Dr Simon Marais, cofounder of Allan Gray Australia; Anet Ahern, CEO of PSG Asset Management; Garth Rossler, CIO and ex-CEO; John Kightley, former chairman of Maple- Brown Abbott Investment Managers in Australia; and Stephen Mildenhall, founder of Contrarius Investment Management in Jersey.

Gray studied at Harvard, where he was a brilliant scholar, before joining Fidelity Asset Management, then the largest asset management firm in the world. He was a portfolio manager at the Fidelity Capital Fund for four years. After 10 years with Fidelity he founded Allan Gray Investment Counsel in 1974. From the beginning his approach was unique to SA in that he applied a contrarian investment approach, looking for value in unpopular sectors where the share price had been pushed way below the intrinsic value of the business. His portfolios looked very different to the indices, and hence the returns were very different...

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