CIO at Old Mutual Private Client Securities Andrew Dittberner. Picture: SUPPLIED
CIO at Old Mutual Private Client Securities Andrew Dittberner. Picture: SUPPLIED

If someone came to you tomorrow with R100m to invest in just one company, which would it be?

The Walt Disney Company. It is easy to forget the role it played in your childhood until you have children of your own. The magic of storytelling and fantasy the films and their characters bring is undeniably powerful.

This business has been around for a very long time, and will continue to do so.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Not that I believe in it, but if it were possible, having a talent for clairvoyance would be amazing. I would then probably not be answering these questions right now.

What was your first job?

Doing whatever odd jobs came my way in Ipswich, England. I did not have a working visa at the time, so needed cash in hand. The jobs included cleaning chicken pens, mowing rugby fields and serving beers in a rugby club. I cannot recall the exact order, though.

If you could fix one thing in SA today, what would it be?

The list is long, but a quick win would be to privatise a number of struggling state-owned enterprises. Besides saving taxpayers’ money, this would send the right signals to local and international investors. There are more important, longer-term structural issues that need to be addressed, however.

What’s the worst investment you have ever made?

Selling Amazon, which I did three years ago.

If you could turn back the clock, what would you change in your life?

I would spend more time reading and less time "jolling" in my formative years. To borrow from a tweet I saw recently, Buffett is often quoted as saying the best strategy is to buy a good business at a fair price — but I am sure if you asked him he would tell you that the best investment strategy is to read. I am still trying to catch up.

What’s the best investment you’ve made?

After inheriting some money, I went off to the bank and spoke to an adviser (whose name I still remember). He suggested I invest in a global equity unit trust. This was in late 2001, when the value of our currency had just broken through to more than R10 to the dollar. It turned out to be the worst investment in respect of returns, but the best from a learning point of view.

You can read the best books, but you also need to learn the hard lessons.

On what occasion do you lie?

At 2am, when my youngest daughter is crying. I pretend to be asleep so that my wife will sort it out. That is lying, right?

Name a place you’ve been to that lives up to the hype.

It is a tie between New York and Die Mystic Boer restaurant in Bloemfontein.

Do you own bitcoin or any other cryptocurrencies? And why?

No. I probably should put some lunch money in, in order to have more than just a passing interest. However, you should not buy something you do not understand.