Lazarus Zim South African Business HeavyWeight

Dealmaker extraordinaire Lazarus Zim has become a business heavyweight within an extraordinarily short time.

In recent weeks, Zim stood on the verge of the largest deal he's been involved in yet - the proposed R22bn merger of Impala Platinum, Northam Platinum, and Mvelaphanda Resources.

Zim will be the deputy chairman of the entity, which will be the second-largest platinum producer in the world.

Born in Bethlehem, he grew up in a corrugated iron shack, and after a first-class matric, he managed to use an Anglo bursary to study for a BCom at Fort Hare.

His corporate career started small, at the Qwa Qwa Development Corporation in 1984.

But in 1994, his first break came when he began work at the fledgling M-Net group.

When he left to head MTN's burgeoning international business in 2001, Zim had been CEO of MIH SA, responsible for M-Net, SuperSport and MultiChoice. He headed the MIH Group's Africa strategy side.

At MTN, it was on Zim's watch that the cellular company took its first steps into Nigeria. Now, MTN Nigeria has 46m subscribers, almost the population of SA.

Though his career gained traction with MTN, Zim has vast experience in the mining game.

In 2005, he was appointed CEO of Anglo American's SA arm, but he left what many thought was a non job a year later.

Since then, he's gone from strength to strength. And SA's foremost mining house must be ruing its loss.

Until this year's mega deal, Zim's most significant mining deal was when he took 19% of Tokyo Sexwale's Mvela Resources for R1,5bn in 2006. Mvela landed from Anglo 50% of the Booysendal project and a further 22,4% of Northam Platinum for about R4bn.

Besides mining, Zim has completed some significant deals in the property industry.

Not only does his Unipalm Investment Holdings group hold an interest in Growthpoint, but in 2006 he bought 26% of Pinnacle Point Holdings.

Pinnacle was bought by the JSE-listed Acc-Ross group earlier this year, and Zim now chairs the Acc-Ross board.

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