McDonald's South Africa chain bought by Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa Cyril Ramaphosa was a key player in the talks which led to the end of white-minority rule

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One of South Africa's most prominent anti-apartheid activists, Cyril Ramaphosa, is to take over the McDonald's fast-food chain in the country, it has been announced.

Mr Ramaphosa was at one point seen as the man likely to succeed Nelson Mandela as president in 1999 but he instead entered the world of business.

He told reporters that the deal would help to create jobs locally.

McDonald's opened its first South African restaurant in 1995.

But analysts say it has struggled due to tough competition from existing fast-food chains.

Chris Gilmour, an analyst in Johannesburg, said he believed McDonald's had also misread the local market when it opened restaurants that were too large and expensive for potential franchise-holders to operate, the AP news agency reports.

Mr Ramaphosa has been awarded a 20-year agreement to run the 145 McDonald's restaurants in South Africa.

Who is Cyril Ramaphosa?

  • Born 1952 in Soweto
  • Twice jailed in 1970s for fighting apartheid
  • 1982: Started powerful National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)
  • 1990: On committee which received Nelson Mandela when he was freed from prison
  • 1997: Resigned from parliament after losing race to succeed Mandela as president
  • 2000: Founded Shanduka business group - interests include mining, real estate, banking and telecommunications
  • Sits on various international boards, including Coca-Cola International Advisory Board

McDonald's and Mr Ramaphosa did not say how much the deal is worth.

The former activist headed the African National Congress delegation which began talks with the apartheid regime - leading to the end of minority rule in 1994.

He is now one of South Africa's richest businessmen.

As former chairman of the Black Economic Empowerment Commission, he was closely involved in the government programme to transfer wealth and economic assets to the black population.

Mr Ramaphosa said he was honoured at the opportunity and would "focus on satisfying our customers, developing our people and maximizing business opportunities".

McDonald's believes Mr Ramaphosa could turn round the company's fortunes in the country, saying he is a businessman familiar with South Africa's dynamics and market conditions.

"We are excited about the new relationship between McDonald's and Cyril Ramaphosa," said Dave Murphy, division president Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

McDonald's is said to be is the largest fast-food business in the world.

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