Billions made by “strange” investors under the cloak of black economic empowerment.
The saga of Optimum Coal is testimony, surely, to the extraordinary sophistication of some of the mind-boggling transactions that sweep invisibly through South Africa from time to time.
As part of its “BEE requirements”, BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest diversified resources group, sold Optimum Coal, a wholly-South African asset, into a BEE transaction. It is clear that BHP Billiton was interested only in the “BEE credits” it would receive for the deal, rather than in implementing the BEE deal itself.
This was and is not unusual. BEE legislation is opaque and vague, often embarrassing, and includes various heavyweight discretions for politicians.