Coast to coast with private equity

Abdul Milazi

Abdul Milazi

In April 2003, Gary Shayne listed his telecommunications company Celsys on the Zimbabwe stock exchange with a market capitalisation of $22million (about R167million) and became the youngest chief executive on that country's stock exchange. He was only 32 years old.

When inflation rose to over 60000percent per year in 2005, Shayne decided to sell and head for greener private equity pastures in South Africa, with about R80million in his pocket.

He is now carving a niche in the local private equity industry through his company, Coast2Coast, which has already bought six businesses with a combined turnover of about R200million.

Shayne says Coast2Coast acquires and develops complimentary businesses with the aim of ultimately listing them as groups on the JSE. "We plan to buy at least four more businesses before Christmas," he says.

He says what sets Coast2Coast apart from other private equity companies is that he and co-owner Cris Dillon, use their own private funds - accumulated through a series of previous highly successful entrepreneurial ventures - to make the investments.

Their strategy is to invest in local businesses which are easy to understand, have limited competition and operate in well-established markets.