When South African business people start to view the country as a small pond they get ambitions to move abroad. The first port of call is almost always the UK, where tycoons from Ernest Oppenheimer to Donald Gordon dropped anchor. Is there much to show for it? De Beers carries on its secretive way while the Gordon family no longer controls that excellent UK property portfolio, now Intu and Capital & Counties. There have been quite embarrassing experiences, such as Standard Bank, which had ambitions to build a significant merchant banking business in London but was subsequently forced to wind down. Under the radar are the UK investments of Douw Steyn: comparethemarket.com uses a meerkat in its advertising yet many people I talked to in London were unaware of the South African links in the business, and the UK version of Steyn’s Budget Insurance certainly doesn’t take a biltong-and-braai approach to its marketing.Has Discovery ever been under the radar? Many in the UK might not realis...

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