The long-run firm level effects of apartheid cronyism in South Africa

The FT has this fascinating piece on the troubles facing South African mining giant Anglo-American:

Anglo was not apartheid’s victim but its beneficiary, not only allowed to exploit black workers but shielded from competition. That encouraged it to behave like the old nickname for the Oppenheimer family empire, “the octopus”. It spread tentacles throughout the South African economy, extending into Botswana through De Beers, the Oppenheimer diamond group.

Anglo was not a state-owned enterprise but an enterprise that became a state — a skilled bureaucracy expert at controlling resources and wielding hegemony. Its elite cadre of Anglophile managers were not as astute as they thought they were, or were clever in a way that lost relevance. Some expected, as one former rival executive puts it, “to be rewarded for showing up”.

…. A structure and culture that was highly experienced at navigating the closed, politicised world of apartheid South Africa was outmatched by global capital markets. “It felt like we were being compelled to do things it was not in our nature to do,” says one Anglo executive.

On a related note, read this on corruption in apartheid South Africa.

All things for older people to remember before reminiscing over the good old days under apartheid as South Africa continues to struggle under the singularly inept leadership of Jacob Zuma.

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