BACKSTORY: Basil Read’s Khathutshelo ‘K2’ Mapasa
We question CEO of Basil Read Khathutshelo ‘K2’ Mapasa
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Never be too eager or hasty. I prefer diligence over speed.
What was your first job?
Graduate trainee engineer at De Beers Marine.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
About R8,000. I spent it on furniture (I bought a futon bed) and rent, and bought my first car six months later.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
Not everyone who gives you a hard time is your enemy.
What are you reading at the moment?
Why Nations Fail, by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson.
How would you fix Eskom?
I believe the principles of business rescue will apply in Eskom’s case, so there will have to be a number of interventions which will be painful, including some of the debt being compromised and part of it being converted to equity. The profitability of Eskom will have to be increased through a combination of cost reductions (coal, employees, and so on) and tariff increases. This will result in all stakeholders taking pain in the short term in order to regain sustainability.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
Many years ago I used to DJ, the old-school way, with two direct drive turntables, mixer, amp and vinyls. I still have some of my old vinyls in my garage, and every now and again I get the urge to play.
What has been your worst purchase?
I bought a house in Pretoria East when I moved there for work. It turned out to be an unsuitable home as I just hated the place. I sold it within two months at a significant loss.
How satisfied are you with how our democracy has shaped up after 1994?
Our democracy has turned out well, by and large. However, we have underperformed our economic potential.
How would you set about fixing SA’s jobs crisis?
We need to learn from other nations that have tackled this crisis before, such as China. Construction of infrastructure has the biggest potential to create mass employment, particularly for unskilled and poor compatriots.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
Anglo American in January 2016, when it was trading at less than R60 a share.
What do you consider to be the most overrated virtue?
Loyalty to tenure.
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress him?
Be grateful for all your experiences. Don’t be too serious about yourself, have more fun, take more risk. Learn more.
Was there ever a point at which you wanted to trade it all in for a different career? And if so, what would that career be?
No, though in matric I thought I wanted to be a doctor. But I was offered a bursary by Anglo American to study engineering. I have never wanted to change.