ShapeShifter

Meet Jannie Mouton, the "Richard Branson of Stellenbosch"

(Click here for more from Bruce Whitfield's "The Money Show".)

(Click here for more "ShapeShifter" articles such as this one.)

Busy and influential, Johannes “Jannie” Mouton, the Founder and Chairman of PSG Financial Services, is rapidly changing perceptions about Stellenbosch, from a sleepy town to a bustling business hub.

Born in Carnarvon in 1946, this 67 year old has a long way yet before he decides to slow his pace.

“I’m semi-retired but PSG is still my passion and I like going to work every day,” says Mouton matter-of-factly.

"And then they fired me."

At 49 years old, Jannie Mouton reached a pivotal point in his life.

In his book, Jannie Mouton: ‘And then they fired me’, Mouton describes how, on a winter’s morning in Johannesburg, he went to work at the stockbrokerage SMK where he was the CEO. He was invited into the boardroom, and was then promptly fired.

“I had to pack my things and go home; it was as easy as that,” says Mouton.

Jannie’s late wife, Dana Mouton, rationalised the situation quite bluntly.

“My wife told me there must be something wrong with me.”

“She said, ‘Jannie, you know, there are 20 partners at SMK. It’s a very clever company, they can’t be wrong’. She actually told me there must be something wrong with me as well,” he says with a hearty laugh.

Fortunately, being fired and having his straight-talking wife point out potential flaws forced Mouton to do a bit of introspection.

Mouton’s children also gave him the needed nudge to get back on his feet and rethink his life.

He was in the study in his house in Northcliff when one of his sons walked in and asked what Mouton was doing to keep busy.

“I said to him, ‘I phoned the stock exchange to see what the prices are doing’ - before the internet and that - and he said to me, ‘Jissus, Pa, that can’t keep a man like you busy all day!’”

A change of plan; Mouton creates PSG Group Unlimited

Mouton realised that he needed a change of plan; to seek out opportunities.

Then, in 1996, Mouton founded PSG Group Unlimited where he currently serves as a Non-Executive Chairman.

“I am a fortunate man to have a company that I enjoy working at. It’s my hobby, it’s my passion and it’s even great that there’s a lot of family and friends involved as well,” says Mouton.

Publically-listed PSG is a great South African success story with regards to the level of returns for shareholders.

“PSG is a new South African company; it shows you what opportunities there are in South Africa,” says Mouton.

Along with the success of PSG, another Mouton business venture is often regarded as one the most successful stories in the South African business world in the last 10 to 15 years.

Enter Capitec Bank…

“When we (Mouton and Michael le Roux) started off, we bought 300 loan shark operations. At that stage my children and friends didn’t want to talk to me because I was the biggest loan shark in South Africa! Then, one by one, we converted that into Capitec Bank branches. It is a tremendous success story today,” says Mouton.

Having listed just after Saambou went under, the listing price of Capitec went from R2 to 80 cents. Today it stands at over R200.

Capitec Bank now has 560 branches and more than four-million clients.

Curro, yet another iconic, ultra-successful investment

Private school education business Curro is yet another business made successful with the help of Mouton.

Founder Chris van der Merwe described the story of how he built the first school in a church hall. After establishing three schools, he began looking for investors and nervously approached PSG.

Mouton was in the room when Van der Merwe gave his pitch.

Van der Merwe recalled how, halfway through his presentation, Mouton got up, declared he was leaving, and told his investors that if they didn’t invest in Curro he personally would.

“Van der Merwe is being overly dramatic," jokes Mouton. "We were looking to invest in private schools and we saw our opportunity there”.

Today, Curro houses 26 schools and has gone from being valued at R100-million to a current market cap of R4.5-billion.

A changed man

The Jannie Mouton of 2013 is certainly a very different one from the Jannie Mouton of 1995.

“I have arranged my things so that I can’t be fired,” jokes Mouton.

“I learned that lesson. I am still sometimes a bit hard with people and then, who feels bad afterwards? Me. I go home I thinking, ‘Hell, was that the right way of putting it, can’t I be a bit softer?’”

Read about success in business

“Read a lot about successful people. If your passion is business, read a lot of business books. It gives you a clear idea about what is special in life and how to look for an opportunity.

“If there is good management you will have good results. I learned that from Michael le Roux.

“I have no respect for tenderpreneurs or people like that. Integrity and honesty with yourself and your shareholders is of utmost importance,” concludes Mouton.

(Click here for more "Shapeshifter" articles - inspirational interviews with movers and shakers - such as this one.)

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