Rajen Pillay, Business Leader

Chief Executive Officer

Garuda Capital, Sub-Saharan Africa


Mr. Pillay is CEO of Garuda Capital (Pty) Ltd, a boutique Mergers & Acquisitions firm in South Africa. The firm specialises and facilitates Foreign Acquisitions of South African companies as well as investments into SADCC countries, Trade & Import Finance for LC’s, Corporate Finance Structuring, local and international Debt & Capital Raising. Preferred deal size > R100m. Garuda Capital has well established relations with several London listed Investment Banks and Fund managers, Indian Investment Banks, Hong Kong Private Equity Funds, Kenyan & Nigerian investment bankers etc. The firm was instrumental in the awarding of the Third National Lottery License, which at > R60bn is regarded as one of the largest tenders in SA.

Mr. Pillay studied in Kent, England and completed his “A” levels in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. He was the first “Black” Head Boy in the Schools 300 year History, representing Kent in Rugby and Athletics. Completed his B.Comm & Post Graduate Diploma in Management Accounting (PGMA) from the University of Natal. He completed his articles in Durban with Pim Goldby (now Deloitte & Touche) Chartered Accountants. Later joined the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) as an investigative analyst. He was then employed by the New Republic Bank Ltd as head of credit. He completed his Associate Diploma in Banking and earned the CAIB (SA) qualification; being the premier banking qualification in SA. Mr. Pillay’s MSc dissertation for the University of Liverpool focused on Capital Raising on the JSE. In particular, capital raising via Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPAC’s). This dissertation being the first and only formal & academic study of SPAC’s in South Africa to date.

Mr. Pillay commenced his career at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) by joining Mathison and Holdidge Inc and became Head of Private Clients. He was appointed a Member of The JSE, with the Distinction of becoming the first Black Member of JSE (in the Old Apartheid days when the JSE was an Old Boys Club). Later joined Frankel Max Pollak Inc as Director of Private Clients. Mr. Pillay was then appointed Director of International Bank, Societe Generale Inc (Soc Gen). He competed against and won over several key portfolios from Investec Asset Management and Coronation Asset Management (in excess of R2.5bn) from the Joint Municipal Employees Fund, University of Westville and Durban University of Technology (late 1990’s). In 1995 Mr. Pillay formed the textile giant, Coastal Group Ltd, and served as Managing Director. The company was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in 1997 and employed 2500 workers in six operating companies. Attaining a peak market capitalisation of > R800m. Gaining significant and deep industrial experience Coastal Group Ltd, was a Star Performer on the JSE until the Asian Currency Crisis (ACC) resulted in the demise and Nationalization of the overseas parent company. The share price appreciated over the three years from under 55cps to more than R11.00 each, making Coastal Group Ltd one of the star performers on the JSE for the period.

Mr. Pillay then developed his other business interests. Finance Minister Trevor Manuel appointed Mr. Pillay to the Financial Services Board (FSB) in Pretoria. In particular Mr. Pillay focused his energies on the Insider Trading Directorate (ITD) which dealt with “inside deals” on the JSE. Mr. Pillay played a pivotal role and dealt with several cases of national economic importance. He also chaired the sub- committee into the Collapse of Saambou Bank Ltd at the request of the Minister of Finance. Under his purview, the largest fine in South African corporate history of R42m was levied against Deutsche Bank for insider trading. The bank admitted guilt and paid within 2 days.
Was also instrumental in the controversial arrest of Mr. Roger Kebble in the Randfontein / Harmony saga. Mr Pillay served as Treasurer of Rotary International and a Member of Young Presidents Organisation (YPO) internationally. He has also been a long serving Director of New National Assurance Company Ltd, a large Public Short Term Insurer . Mr. Pillay managed & advised The Board for several years on their equity and cash portfolio.

Rajen has made a contribution in the Educational Sector as Member of Council of the University of Natal (UKZN), the apex governing body. Also briefly Chairman of the Finance Committee. Mr. Pillay has been active with, and is Patron of GOPIO International. Also representing GOPIO in New York, Kuala Lumpur and at various Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) in India. Rajen was honoured by GOPIO Malaysia, having being awarded their International Excellence Award for Finance.

Mr. Pillay has the distinction of being appointed by President Nelson Mandela and Comrade Alfred Nzo (former Foreign Minister) as Honorary Consul for the Republic of Mauritius.

He accompanied President Thabo Mbeki on his first historic Presidential visit to the USA. The business delegation held detailed & ground-breaking discussions with Pres. Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.


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