Derek Keys. File picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Derek Keys. File picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Derek Keys, notable businessman and the first finance minister of the democratic era, died on Sunday night of natural causes at the age of 86, friends said on Monday.

Keys was finance minister from 1992 to September 1994, serving in the cabinets of both FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela. His major political contribution was assisting with the transition from apartheid era to democratic government.

He was also an enormously influential businessman and spent much of his life as an adviser and board member to several major local and foreign companies, including Malbak, Price Forbes, Samancor and Sappi.

He joined the Industrial Development Corporation in 1965 and he was involved in the development of many of the major South African industries.

Prior to joining government, he oversaw the turnaround of one of SA’s biggest mining houses, Gencor, and became known for the strategy of unbundling stakes in conglomerates to shareholders.

He leaves his wife Silma, two children Martin and Jessica, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.