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The JSE and the Treasury were in Parliament last week, presenting the results of careful, detailed studies of who owns the companies listed on the JSE and how they own them. The studies were prompted by debates on transformation, in a context in which estimates of black ownership of the JSE range from the National Empowerment Fund’s 3% to the JSE’s 23%. One thing the two sets of research make clear is that the number is definitely not 3%. The Treasury study, conducted by independent researchers, estimates black direct and indirect ownership of the top 100 South African companies listed on the JSE at 20% in 2013, measured according to the methods specified in the broad-based black economic empowerment codes. The studies are interesting as much for the story they tell about the JSE’s distinctive "ecosystem" and about SA’s savings patterns as they are for what they say about black ownership. SA has an exceptionally low savings rate, which is one of the reasons its growth rate is so low...

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