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Business magnate Allan Gray dies at 81

South African business veteran, investor, philanthropist and founder of the Allan Gray Foundation – passed away at the age of 81.

According to a spokesperson at his firm, Gray passed away over the weekend while in Bermuda. The cause of death was revealed as a heart attack.

The company will release a statement in due course.

Allan Gray’s legacy

Gray established the Allan Gray Foundation in 2007, an organisation aimed at supporting young entrepreneurs. Throughout the years, he donated the bulk of his wealth to charity.

The Allan Gray Foundation was established with a $130m (R1.9 billion) endowment, the largest single recorded donation to a South African charity.

The organisation provides South African students with scholarships, from schooling to tertiary education; as well as support for small businesses and startups.

In 2017, Forbes estimated that Gray’s net worth was $1.8 billion (R26.8 billion).

Private life and business ventures

Gray was born in East London in 1938 and completed his schooling at Selborne College before studying accounting at Rhodes University.

He went on to earn an MBA at Harvard Business School in 1965 and returned to South Africa in 1973 to establish the Allan Gray Investment Management.

Gray founded Orbis Investment Management Limited in the late eighties in London. Some 26 years later, Orbis managed over $30 billion in assets.

At the same time, Allan Gray Investment Management was becoming South Africa’s largest privately-held investment management firm, with approximately $35 billion (R521 billion) in client capital.

South Africans react

The news took South Africa by storm and citizens turned to Twitter to express their grief. 5FM DJ Rob Forbes said that Allan Gray was just a brand name for a long time. He explained:

“For a long time I didn’t realise that Allan Gray was a real person and not just a brand name. He was one of the richest ppl on the continent – then in 2013 he gave $9Bn of his $10Bn fortune to a foundation for scholarships for tertiary study in SA. That’s a helluva thing.”

Another user added that Allan Gray paid for his university fees “when my parents could not afford to,” while another said: “If it weren’t for him and his commitment to South Africa, I’d have never gone to university.”

Sinesipho said she will “forever be grateful for his generosity and vision,” adding that she has “access to genuinely the best network of young professionals on the African Content,” thanks to Gray.

“You saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I will forever be grateful for your investment in my personal development. As an Allan Gray Fellow, I promise that the seed you planted in me will come onto fruition and MULTIPLY.”

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