Investment pioneer Allan Gray dies

The 81-year old founder of the eponymous investment firm Allan Gray has died, a spokesperson for the company confirmed on Monday morning. 

"It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the death of Allan William Buchanan Gray on November 10, 2019, of natural causes," said the investment management company in a brief statement. "Our first thoughts are with his family, and with them, as colleagues and friends, we are mourning the passing of a man who made an immeasurable impact on many lives as an entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. He has earned his rest."

Born in East London in 1938, Gray studied accountancy at Rhodes University in Grahamstown and became a chartered accountant while working for Deloitte in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

He received an MBA from Harvard in 1965, and then joined the asset manager Fidelity in Boston as a fund manager. During this time, he completed the newly-introduced Chartered Financial Analyst programme and, according to an article in Personal Finance magazine, became the first CFA charter holder in South Africa, when he returned to the country in 1973 to start his own investment firm, called Allan Gray Investment Counsel.

“In starting Allan Gray Investment Counsel in 1973, I was convinced that my passion for investing could be deployed to demonstrably enhance clients’ savings and wealth and provide them with good value for their money,” Gray said in a letter to clients in 2015. “This was our raisond’être, our driving sense of purpose. We focused on earning and retaining the trust and confidence of our clients, leaving them to determine through their actions whether the firm would grow and prosper—or languish and fail. Our financial services were to be bought and not sold.”

By 1987, the company had 36 staff members and managed more than R2bn, and Gray moved to London to launch the international investment firm Orbis. The company was domiciled in Hamilton, Bermuda, where Gray was based in recent years.

In 2005, Gray founded the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation with a personal gift of more than R1bn. The foundation awarded scholarships to some of SA’s top schools, including Parktown Girls’ High School, Michaelhouse, Bishops Diocesan College and St Cyprian’s High School, as well as university bursaries.

In 2015, Gray transferred his controlling shareholding in Allan Gray to the Allan & Gill Gray Foundation, which he founded with his wife in 1979. The philanthropic foundation does not control the investment firm – instead it is managed by a holding company whose board consists of executives and non-executive directors. Allan Gray donates a portion of its profits to the foundation.

“I am enormously grateful to my wife Gill, my soul mate and partner for over 50 years; our three children, Trevor, Jennifer and William, whose enthusiastic participation and selflessness has made the Foundation possible; and their descendants, who will be indispensable to the Foundation’s long-term success,” Gray said in a statement at the time.

Forbes calculated Gray’s net worth at $1.8bn in 2017.

The Citizen reported that Gray died of a heart attack in Bermuda. 

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