Anchor Capital’s Peter Armitage: From a caravan park to managing billions - CNBC Africa

Anchor Capital’s Peter Armitage: From a caravan park to managing billions

Special Report

by Seymone Moodley 0

*This article first appeared in Forbes Africa. Subscribe today by emailing Lieria Boshoff:[email protected] visit

Chartered accountant and founder of Anchor Capital, Peter Armitage, who owns $1.55-million worth of shares in his company, was born in a caravan park in Boksburg, Johannesburg. At the age of seven, his family moved out of the trailer park to Durban where he studied and took on a part-time job to pay his fees, earning $13 a shift as a rugby reporter for a newspaper.

Armitage returned to Johannesburg with a degree to work as an analyst for Deutsche Bank. Soon he became South Africa’s top-rated analyst. He received 21 number one ratings for seven years and was named analyst of the year in 1999.

“When you are 30 years old and you get that, you can’t be more chuffed with life,” says Armitage. 

His skill with numbers and words helped.

“It doesn’t mean I was the smartest analyst; in every industry there is a game to be played. You’ve got to know how to do numbers but you also have to know how to write, I was very good at writing the reports,” says Armitage.

After five years at Deutsche Bank, Armitage made what he calls the biggest mistake in his career; moving to Merrill Lynch. 

“I was the number one analyst and Merrill Lynch offered me a big fat pay check. And when you move for money, it’s usually not the right thing,” says Armitage.

It didn’t work. After just one year at Merrill Lynch, Armitage left for what was the best time of his life. He ran Africam, a live 24-hour website that enables people all over the world to watch video feeds from the African bush. He was brought on board largely to help list the business in London. Africam was the 17th biggest site in the world during the 2000s and would have listed at $250 million on the NASDAQ if the tech bubble hadn’t burst.

“The NASDAQ crashed and I had to go back and get a real job. It was a great adventure,” he says.

Armitage gave up wildlife and headed for Nedbank. The bank did not do asset management, something that Armitage wanted, so he left for Investec. He worked as the chief investment officer at Investec Wealth for seven years. He still wasn’t satisfied.

“The internet thing frustrated me; I always wanted to be an entrepreneur but I didn’t pull it off. I needed to get back there,” says Armitage.

In 2012, Armitage founded Anchor Capital. He took a shell and turned it into a company that employs over 70 people.

“At [the age of] 30 you do it and you haven’t got the experience. This time around, I was 42 when we started so I had a bit more life experience; you’re not going in and then shocked that you lost something. You know what’s coming; you have a better idea of how hard you have to work and what you have to do,” says Armitage.

Anchor Capital raised $5.1 million in its listing on the JSE’s Alternative Exchange.

“We listed because we are ambitious and we want to go places. In two and half years, we’ve gotten into the top 30 of about 150 unit trust companies, we have leap-frogged all the guys who have been around forever. But we want to be in the top 10, not in the top 30. Our business is all about people, the listed business is a room with our brand wrapped around it. I wanted everyone who helped us build this business to have ownership in this business, every single person in the room has shares or share options. Our driver is worth $13,309 now,” says Armitage.

When the company listed in September, Piet Viljoen from RECM wasn’t too impressed.

“As a stock it is massively overpriced, a very small portion of the company is floated so it is tightly held and there is too much hype around it.”

Anthony Clark, financial & industrial small & medium market cap analyst from Vunani Securities, described Armitage as colourful but astute and continues to see good growth ahead in Anchor Capital’s share price.

Armitage spends time away from the office looking for shares and new ways to make money. His passion for his business also has a dash of humour; he says his biggest motivation is a Kentucky Fried Chicken rounder. But his appetite for business is much stronger. 

“We’re hungry and we enjoy it. I think it is just in your blood. In my last year or two at Investec, I was coming home at 5 o‘clock. I had a cosy job. When you get to your forties, your true soul and character gets tested. A lot of people have worked themselves up to seniority, getting paid more money than they need and just cruise. That was me, then my wife said to me, ‘this is not you. In the 12 years we’ve been married, you don’t seem to have any passion.’ And that’s when I realised I am an entrepreneur; I need to do this myself,” says Armitage.

*This article first appeared in Forbes Africa. Subscribe today by emailing Lieria Boshoff:[email protected] visit