Unsystematic risk in South African privately-owned company valuations

10 July 2014

The purpose of the study is to determine whether advisory firms valuing privately-owned companies in South Africa take unsystematic risk into account and, if they do, how objectively it is done. A literature search was reviewed and used as a foundation in a questionnaire to gather information from the big four audit, advisory and taxation firms (PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Deloitte & Touch and Ernst & Young). The study found that unsystematic risk is incorporated into privately-owned company valuations, but that the whole subject of valuations, especially privately-owned company valuations, does not entail entire objectivity. The study further concluded that it is possible to use unsystematic risk as a device to bring the final results of a valuation in line with the clients’ objective. Further research should be done by extending the population to include medium- and large advisory firms and comparing the approaches used by each group.