Investor & Philanthropist Allan Gray Dies At 81

November 12, 2019

Allan William Buchanan Gray Bermuda Nov 2019South African-born billionaire businessman and philanthropist Allan Gray, long known for his corporate and personal generosity to Bermuda charities and community causes, died on the island on Sunday. He was 81 years old.

Resident in Bermuda since the 1990s, he founded what became Allan Gray Investment Management in Cape Town in 1973, one of the largest and most successful firms of its kind on the African continent.

The company initially focused on investment counselling, later growing to include institutional clients in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Nigeria and Kenya.

Mr. Gray then set up Orbis Investment Management in 1989 in London to focus on investing in international markets, with the company relocating its headquarters to Bermuda in 1991.

“Allan made an immeasurable impact on many lives as an entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist in Bermuda, and globally,” said an Orbis spokesperspm today [Nov 12]. “He has earned his rest.”

“Allan leaves behind a lasting legacy. He founded Allan Gray and Orbis with the singular purpose of creating long-term wealth for clients and the firms continue to be guided by Allan’s strong values and his philosophy and approach to investing.”

The spokesperson added that Mr. Gray saw philanthropy as a natural extension of the impact that the investment business aims to make in people’s lives, and focused considerable energy later in his career on charitable endeavours.

Born in East London, South Africa in 1938 to Scottish immigrant parents, after completing high school at Selborne College he continued his studies at Rhodes University.

Mr. Gray qualified as a chartered accountant and went on to earn an MBA at Harvard Business School in 1965. He then worked at Fidelity Management and Research in Boston before returning to South Africa in 1973

His last years were spent setting up Allan & Gill Gray Foundation, having donated his family’s controlling stake in the Orbis and Allan Gray groups to the charitable organisation.

All dividends that the foundation receives are devoted entirely and exclusively to philanthropy.

Recently, the foundation established the Philanthropy Initiative, through which contributions are made to charitable partners in the locales where Allan Gray Limited and Orbis offices are situated, including Bermuda.

The current programme theme is aimed at ensuring inclusive and quality education for all, and to promote lifelong learning.

As Mr. Gray wrote in his final Orbis Chairman’s Letter in 2015, “We consider this both the right thing to do and a small but necessary contribution toward a society full of hope for all humanity.

“The free enterprise system has done so much for so many, and it behoves the few whom it rewards particularly well to help those less fortunate.”

His work in philanthropy began in 1979, when he and his wife Gill founded the Allan and Gill Gray Charitable Trust. In 2006 he established the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, to fund bursaries and scholarships for talented Southern African scholars and students, mainly from under-resourced communities, with the specific purpose of developing entrepreneurial talent.

He and Mrs. Gray made donations to fund the Centre for Values-based Leadership at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, and the Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics at Rhodes University.

“A meticulous planner, he spent a number of years gradually transferring his responsibilities to others, confident that the firms were in excellent hands,” said the Orbis spokesperson. “He handed over leadership of Orbis to his son William in 2000, resigned from the Allan Gray board in 2010 and stepped away from his remaining investment responsibilities at Orbis in 2012, before retiring officially from Orbis in 2016.

“Allan’s important legacy is exemplified by the work of the 1,500 employees of the asset management firms he founded, the benefits accruing to their many clients, and the ongoing impact which the philanthropic efforts he founded will continue to have. He made a difference.”

Mr. Gray is survived by wife Gill, their three children Trevor, Jenny and Will together with their spouses Carrie, Buddy and Ali, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

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