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7 companies owned by South African businessman John Copelyn

From advocating for garment workers to steering billion-dollar enterprises, Copelyn's impact extends beyond boardrooms

by Feyisayo Ajayi
John Copelyn

John Copelyn, a South African tycoon and business executive, transcends the typical CEO narrative. From his roots in advocating for garment workers in the mid-1990s, he has risen to the helm of a billion-dollar empire, cementing his position among South Africa’s top figures.

Before steering the ship at Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI), Copelyn wielded unusual influence as a trade union general secretary, championing the cause of Southern African textile workers. His vigorous advocacy reverberated through parliament, sparking societal change and a lasting commitment to workers’ welfare — a commitment that defines HCI’s leadership today.

Since 1997, Copelyn’s leadership has propelled HCI to expansive success, transforming it into a diversified powerhouse across media, gaming, and hospitality. At the helm of companies such as Deneb Investments, eMedia Holdings, and Tsogo Sun, Copelyn stands tall in South Africa’s financial arena.

Copelyn’s impact transcends boardrooms. As chair of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and a dedicated supporter of the University of Cape Town Foundation, he channels his energy into uplifting African communities and addressing societal disparities.

From fiery unionist to astute investor, Copelyn’s journey is a testament to the power of ambition and willpower. He proves that businesses can thrive while championing the well-being of their workers and contributing to a brighter future for society.

Billionaires.Africa has identified and cataloged various companies linked to Copelyn. Here are seven companies where he holds substantial or minority stakes:

  1. Montauk Holdings Limited
    Copelyn serves as the non-executive chairman of Montauk Holdings, providing crucial financial backing and strategic guidance. Holding a controlling 40.1-percent stake, or 57,622,308 ordinary shares, Copelyn oversees Montauk Renewables, a wholly-owned subsidiary specializing in the management, recovery, and conversion of biogas into renewable energy.
  1. Hosken Consolidated Investments Limited (HCI)
    As CEO of HCI since 1997, Copelyn commands a substantial 7.58-percent stake, equivalent to 6,490,077 ordinary shares, in this Black empowerment investment holding company listed on the JSE Securities Exchange. HCI’s diverse portfolio spans hospitality, gaming, media, transportation, mining, real estate, and the emerging sectors of oil and gas.
  1. Southern Sun Limited
    As the Non-Executive Chairman of Southern Sun Limited, Copelyn holds a notable 1.01-percent beneficial stake, equivalent to 14,855,338 ordinary shares. Southern Sun is a multinational hospitality powerhouse with a diverse portfolio, including hotels across South Africa, Lagos, Seychelles, and the Middle East.
  1. TIHC Investments (RF) Proprietary Limited
    TIHC Investments, a wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of HCI, holds a controlling 40-percent stake in Southern Sun, making it the company’s largest shareholder. Under Copelyn’s strategic guidance, TIHC acts as a driving force in discovering investment prospects, contributing to substantial growth and expansion.
  1. RBH Hotel Group
    RBH Hospitality Management, chaired by Copelyn, is a renowned hotel management firm with more than 20 years of experience. It specializes in developing and managing private label hotels, providing rebranding services, and is recognized as one of the UK’s leading hospitality companies, managing over 190 hotels.
  1. eMedia Holdings Limited
    Copelyn chairs eMedia Holdings, a company with a majority stake in eMedia Investments Pty Ltd. — a key player in South Africa’s media landscape. With a 67.7-percent ownership, eMedia Holdings, supported by HCI and the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union, plays a significant role in shaping the media industry in South Africa.
  1. HCI Foundation
    Beyond business, Copelyn serves as a trustee at HCI Foundation, embodying leadership in social justice, education, and youth development. Through literacy, skills, and skills development programs, HCI Foundation, under Copelyn’s guidance, bridges education and workforce, fostering entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability, and economic growth. Copelyn’s mentorship approach contributes to the foundation’s mission of nurturing aspiring leaders and promoting ecological responsibility.

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