Investment Team

The Acorn Private Equity group of Executives consists of strong individuals with an array of abilities and expertise. The Team has a strong backbone of private equity, agriculture and financial services experience. The Executives work very well together as a unit and there are defined positions and roles within the group.

Pierre Malan

Pierre Malan
Chief Executive Officer

Pierre is the co-founder and majority shareholder of Acorn Private Equity. He is a qualified chartered accountant and is undoubtedly one of the most successful private equity specialists in South Africa. His excellent track record, along with his contacts and relationships within the industry are priceless qualities that very few private equity funds can boast of. Pierre and Carl are listed as key individuals with the FSB.

BRIEF HISTORY: Pierre specialised in taxation with Arthur Andersen in 1992 and during this time became involved in structured and project finance. In 1994, he joined stockbrokers SMK Securities. In April 1996, he moved to Corporate Finance where he was involved in mergers and acquisitions, new listings, structured finance, rights issues and management buyouts. In January 1998, he was promoted to Director: Corporate Finance of BOE Securities. In September 1998, Pierre started the Corporate Finance function in PSG Investment Bank and worked on new listings, mergers and acquisitions, capital raisings, restructurings and general advice. After the disposal of PSG Investment Bank in June 2002, Pierre assisted in the set-up and creation of PSG Capital as an Executive Director tasked with private equity and corporate finance. In 2006, he joined the PSG Group main board and started PSG’s dedicated private equity investment vehicle, Paladin Capital Ltd. as CEO. Under his guidance, the company grew from R280m of assets under management to a value in excess of R800m in February 2009, when he resigned to start Acorn Private Equity.

Carl Neethling

Carl Neethling
Chief Investment Officer

Carl is a qualified chartered accountant with several years of successful private equity and investment experience at international level. His background in entrepreneurial enterprises and family businesses, together with his experience in fund management and deal structuring, complements the team’s skill set. Carl is a co-founder and shareholder of Acorn Private Equity and the managing director of the Fund Manager of the group. Carl and Pierre are listed as key individuals with the FSB.

BRIEF HISTORY: Carl comes from a strong entrepreneurial and family business background. After his traineeship in Cape Town, Carl accepted a position in Miami where he was part of a core team that provided valuation and investment advice to private equity and real estate clients in Miami (e.g. Whitehall, Trump Group, Berkshire Hathaway). Through Carl´s dealings with Whitehall and Goldman Sachs, he was subsequently recruited to the head-offices of the Westmont Group in London. He was the global investment controller on their private equity ventures. Westmont is one of the largest privately owned investors in private equity in the world with several billion US dollars under management. Carl resigned from Westmont to join Pierre in heading up Acorn Private Equity.



Gerhard Visagie

Gerhard Visagie
Investment Director

Gerhard is a qualified chartered accountant with solid investment experience in private companies in the Agri & Food sectors in Southern Africa. He is a passionate individual with a keen enthusiasm for commerce and investing and since he grew up in the Karoo, has a passion for agriculture.

BRIEF HISTORY: Gerhard completed his traineeship at MGI Bass Gordon where he gained invaluable experience in the operations and finance of private companies. In January 2010, he was recruited as a private equity and turnaround executive at SAAD Investment Holdings, a financial services focused private equity firm. In June 2010, Gerhard joined Acorn Private Equity, one of SAAD’s investee companies. Gerhard currently serves on the Exco of Acorn and has been involved in all aspects of managing Acorn’s investment funds and portfolio of circa R400 million and corporate finance transactions of circa R1.7 billion. Gerhard has had dealings with Overberg Agri, MKB, BKB, Senwes, Agrico, Agricol and several private companies in the Agri & Food sectors.

Francois van Zyl

Francois van Zyl
Corporate Finance Executive

Francois is a qualified chartered accountant and a CFA charterholder. He enjoys the fundamental analysis of investment opportunities and understands the business and management aspects of running a company. Corporate finance provides an excellent combination of the two.

BRIEF HISTORY: Francois completed his traineeship at a medium-sized auditing firm in Cape Town where he was responsible for auditing numerous small to medium-sized enterprises. Following this, he spent almost six years in London working at Investec Bank and Investec Asset Management. Whilst at Investec Bank, he was part of the internal audit division before transferring to Investec Asset Management where he was an equities analyst on a global equities fund. Returning to Cape Town, he joined Acorn Private Equity.