Eskom’s Pension Fund Appoints New CIO as South Africa Allows Bigger Offshore Allocations

By Nick Hedley

South Africa’s Eskom Pension and Provident Fund (EPPF), which had R184 billion (US$11 billion) in assets at the end of 2021, has appointed Sonja Saunderson as its next chief investment officer.

Saunderson has been CIO of Johannesburg-listed Momentum Metropolitan Holdings for the past seven years. Across its wealth, institutional and retail units, Momentum Metropolitan had R724 billion (US$43 billion) in assets under management and administration at the end of March.

“Sonja’s talent, skills and extensive experience in investment management will be key to the growth of the EPPF, and in creating value for our members and stakeholders,” Shafeeq Abrahams, the fund’s chief executive, said in a statement.

“At the same time, Sonja’s appointment consolidates our commitment to enhancing diversity, inclusion and belonging within the fund’s executive leadership team,” Abrahams said.

Saunderson will take over from Phathutshedzo Mabogo and Thabo Letlaka, who have jointly held the CIO role in an interim capacity following the resignation of Ndabe Mkhize, who has since founded Mavovo Capital.

Saunderson’s appointment comes soon after South African regulators amended rules to allow retirement funds to significantly increase their offshore allocations.

Domestic retirement funds can now invest up to 45% of their portfolios outside of the African continent. They were previously allowed to hold 30% of their assets outside of South Africa, plus an additional 10% in other African countries.

The changes are expected to result in significant capital outflows from South Africa, given the country’s muted growth prospects.