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Winning Case Study Poses Hard Questions on Role of Investors

A case study on mining and responsible investment in South Africa from the UCT Graduate School of Business receives top honours in the African Business Category of the 2017 EFMD Case Writing Competition.

A searching look at mining giant Lonmin Plc Mining and the role of investors following the Marikana massacrein South Africa 2012 has won first prize in the prestigious 2017 EFMD Case Writing Competition in the African Business Case category.

Co-authored by Associate Professor Stephanie Giamporcaro from the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) and GSB alumnus and Milpark Education Dean: Financial Planning and Insurance, Marilize Putter, the study is entitled: Lonmin Plc: Mining and responsible investment – dangerous liaisons?

It poses hard questions about the role of investors and shareholders in business and is written from the point of view of a senior executive from a Scandinavian bank following a visit to Lonmin.

Lonmin is a primary producer of Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) in South Africa, a country which hosts nearly 80% of global PGM resources.

“We wanted this study to be original and creative, while also being extremely relevant and topical,” says Associate Professor Stephanie Giamporcaro. “We thought a foreign voice would give this controversial and emotional subject some distance from which we could really explore and identify the issues at stake.”

Some of the key points are around justifying investing in companies with legacy issues and problems stemming from apartheid and gross human rights abuses. Prior to the Marikana tragedy, Lonmin was regarded as one of the more sustainable and socially responsible companies to invest it. For some investors, this lead to questions now of how they could have missed the brewing tension at the mine and among workers and if they should have been more involved in monitoring the company’s treatment of employees. While the study does not attempt to give answers, it creates a framework for conversation and probing analysis that is especially useful in a classroom environment.

Putter says, “Working on the case, I realised how difficult it is for leaders, given the various complexities which exist, to make the correct decision, even if they have the best intentions in the world.” She says it was especially challenging to present all of the views on the topic as there was so much information available.

“What makes this case study especially relevant,” says Claire Barnardo, Case Writing Centre Manager at the UCT Graduate School of Business, “is that it is uniquely African but globally relevant.”

“Case studies like these give business students an insight into the complexities of the mining sector in South Africa as well as the different relationships between labour unions, workers, executives and the corporate world in an emerging market business landscape.” 

Issued by Rothko on behalf of the GSB. For more information or interviews, please contact Michelle Ford | Email:  michelle@rothko.co.za  | Phone:  +27 21 448 9457  

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