Trevor Manuel goes banking – joins Rothschild Group

Trevor Manuel doing a live radio interview with me in Davos. His decision to join the private sector reflects SA's maturing democracy.
Trevor Manuel doing a live radio interview with me at the World Economic Forum in Davos. His decision to join the private sector reflects SA’s maturing democracy.

This morning’s news that one of South Africa’s most admired politicians has switched to the private sector is to be welcomed. It reflects a maturing of our young democracy. My first meeting with Trevor Manuel was in 1992 at what was then Shell House, where he worked in the ANC’s modestly furnished Economic Planning department with Max Sisulu, Tito Mboweni and Gill Marcus. Soon after, as the national broadcaster’s economics editor, I conducted Trevor Manuel’s first SABC television interview, and poured him his first whisky in the Corporation’s Green Room. Like most people who rise from humble beginnings to breathe the rarified oxygen of the very powerful, Trevor’s greatest asset was a keen ear, his ability to listen and absorb. He made mistakes (like the infamous “amorphous markets” comment soon after appointed Finance Minister in 1996) but for the most part was the ideal cabinet minister: conservative and committed, able to take the tough decisions, but never forgetting his roots, his values and the reason he went into politics – to serve. Manuel, now 58, has fulfilled an appropriate “cooling off” period since leaving Cabinet. Hopefully his move opens the gates for others, ushering in an era that’s normal in democracies where leaders switch easily between the public and private sectors, to the benefit of both. Best of all, though, is this news confirms Manuel has rejected numerous opportunities to work abroad. South Africa’s development needs are such that it can ill afford to lose more scarce leadership talent. Especially its Trevor Manuels. – AH 

From the Rothschild Group: 

Rothschild is pleased to announce the appointment of Trevor Manuel as a senior advisor to the Group worldwide and Deputy Chairman of Rothschild in South Africa, with effect from 1st October 2014.  Mr. Manuel will be based in Rothschild’s Johannesburg office and will work closely with its South African team, developing the group’s business in Africa.

Mr. Manuel was most recently Minister in the Presidency responsible for South Africa’s National Planning Commission under President Jacob Zuma. He retired from public office earlier this year, having served 20 years in senior government positions in democratic South Africa. In 1994, Nelson Mandela appointed him as Minister of Trade and Industry in the country’s first democratic cabinet. From 1996 to 2009, Mr. Manuel served as Minister of Finance under Presidents Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe.

Announcing the appointment, David de Rothschild, Chairman of the Rothschild Group, said: “It is with great pleasure that I welcome Trevor Manuel to Rothschild. His stewardship of the South African economy under successive Presidents and his variety of roles in various global multilateral institutions puts him in a rarified peer group. His addition to the firm will be invaluable to our clients as they develop strategies to expand their businesses in Africa and beyond.”

Director and Chairman of the Board of Rothschild in South Africa, Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu, said: “Trevor Manuel’s impressive time as Finance Minister not only won wide respect from the markets, it also created one of the most highly respected fiscal regimes and legacies in the world. His knowledge and experience, combined with Rothschild’s advisory expertise will position us to take advantage of a growing appetite from African companies and Governments to develop their businesses and access capital markets. 

Trevor Manuel said: “I am very much looking forward to assisting Professor Nkuhlu, Martin Kingston and the rest of the team in developing the Rothschild franchise in Africa.  It is an exciting step and a particular pleasure to work alongside the Group and its other senior advisers.


Trevor commentsAbout Rothschild:

Rothschild is one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory groups and is currently ranked the No.1 financial advisor in South Africa by Thomson Reuters.

Our Global Financial Advisory business provides impartial, expert advice to corporations, governments, institutions and individuals.

With approximately 900 advisers in 40 countries around the world, our scale, reach, intellectual capital and local knowledge enable us to develop relationships and deliver effective solutions to our clients, wherever their business takes them. This is why we are leaders in financial advice, worldwide. Some of our recent landmark transactions locally and internationally include:

  • Advising Woolworths on its A$2.1bn acquisition of David Jones in Australia
  • Advising Vodacom on its R7bn acquisition of Neotel
  • Advising the Government of Cote D’Ivoire on its inaugural $750m Eurobond issue
  • Sole financial advisor to OCP of Morocco on its rating and debut $1.85bn bond – the first African investment grade corporate issue outside of South Africa
  • Sole independent advisor to the Alibaba Group on its $25 billion IPO – the largest IPO of all time

About Trevor Manuel: 

Trevor Manuel served as a Cabinet Minister from 1994 to 2014 under the first four successive Presidents, Mandela, Mbeki, Motlanthe and Zuma in democratic South Africa. His cabinet responsibilities included Trade and Industry (May 1994 to April 1996), Finance (April 1996 to May 2009), and in the Presidency, responsibility for the National Planning Commission (May 2009 to May 2014). During his two decades as a Cabinet Minister he also served as a Member of Parliament, representing the African National Congress.

His ministerial career highlights have tracked two decades of major development in the South African economy. As Minister of Trade and Industry he led the process of reintegration of South Africa into the global economy after decades of sanctions, and he introduced extension support measures for small, medium and micro-enterprises. During his lengthy tenure as Minister of Finance he stabilised the macro-economy, significantly transformed the fiscal system in respect of taxation, expenditure and the intergovernmental system. As Chairperson of the National Planning Commission he oversaw the drafting of the broadly accepted first-ever National Development Plan for the country.

As Minister he assumed a number of ex officio positions on International bodies, including the United Nations Commission for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Bank, the IMF, the G20, the African Development Bank and the Southern African Development Community. In these institutions, he was also frequently elected by his peers to chair several of these bodies.

Mr Manuel was also appointed as Special Envoy for Financing Development on two occasions (2001 and 2008) by successive Secretaries General of the United Nations. He served on various international commissions including the Task Force on Global Public Goods (2002/3), the Africa Commission (2005), the Commission on Growth and Development (2006 to 2010), the Global Ocean Commission (2012/4) (that he co-chaired) and the Commission on the New Climate Economy (2013/4). He was requested to chair various Task Teams including on IMF Governance Reform (2007/8) and the World Bank Doing Business Report (2013).

Mr. Manuel has received a number of awards and presentations, including Africa’s Finance Minister of the Year and the Woodrow Wilson Public Service Award. He has 7 honorary doctorates from South African tertiary institutions and a Doctor of Laws from MacMaster University, Ontario Canada. His South African doctorates are in the following fields: two of commerce, three of technology, one of economics and one of law. He has served as the Chancellor of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) since May 2008.

Mr Manuel was born in 1956. He matriculated from Harold Cressy High School in Cape Town. He has a National Diploma in Civil and Structural Engineering from the Peninsula Technikon and completed the Executive Management Programme in a joint programme between Stanford University and the National University of Singapore. He is married to Barclays Africa CEO Maria Ramos and they live in South Africa.

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