Earlier this month, Mabuza bought 10% of the shares in the business co-founded by Itumeleng Kgaboesele for an undisclosed amount, earning a seat as executive chairperson of the company.
Among Sphere’s interests are engineering and industrial plant maintenance, rail fastening equipment and financial services – through Babcock – a subsidiary of British multinational Babcock International, Pandrol and Old Mutual.
But the sizes of these stakes do not exceed 40%.
Kgaboesele told City Press that Sphere now wants to take the business to another level.
It will raise between R500 million and R1 billion in fresh capital to change tack, buying up what it calls “majority or leading stakes” in companies valued at R500 million and R1 billion. It will also seek to influence operations in the companies it invests in.
Adding Mabuza to the team supported that objective, said Kgaboesele.
“[It is] an opportunity to work with the leverage of a seasoned businessperson.”
Mabuza held the chief executive post at the Tsogo Sun hotels group for five years, retiring in September 2011. After that, he took up the nonexecutive role of deputy chairperson. He also chairs the Telkom board, while serving as president of lobby group Business Unity South Africa.
He joins a team Kgaboesele – a former Citigroup investment banking vice-president – put together over 12 years and which has a combined 46 years in private equity, deal origination and strategic investments.
Mabuza brings capital raising and more deal origination heft to the table.