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
Chief Executive Officer – Acorn Private Equity

Pierre is the co-founder and majority shareholder of Acorn Private Equity. He is a qualified chartered accountant and has extensive private equity in Southern 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.

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. In April 2009 he resigned to start Acorn Private Equity.

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.

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.

Johan van Zyl
Investment Principal

Johan is a qualified CFA with experience in private equity and corporate finance across Southern Africa, the UK and USA. He enjoys the dynamics and active involvement in value creation that private equity investing has to offer.

BRIEF HISTORY: Johan has a strong academic background and lectured for 3 years in investment management and finance at Stellenbosch University. After that he was part of a niche corporate finance house where he gained experience across a wide range of industries and sectors including agriculture, food / FMCG, natural resource management, financial services, technology and the film & production industry. Johan joined Acorn as an analyst at the start of 2015 he has been intricately involved in the end-to-end private equity investment and portfolio management process.

Francisca Heese
Legal Associate

Francisca joined the business in 2017 as a Junior Analyst before being promoted to Legal Associate. She has completed both her B.Com and LLM degrees. Francisca has a keen interest in the legal aspects of corporate financing and private equity. Prior to joining Acorn Private Equity, she served as a junior lecturer and research assistant at Stellenbosch University.



Emma-Jane Gordan


Emma joined the business as a junior analyst in 2018, before being promoted to her current position. She is passionate about investing and aspires to become a CFA Charter holder. Emma holds a Hons B.Com degree from Stellenbosch University.


Gerhard Jacobs
Financial Manager

Gerhard is the financial manager at Acorn and the company secretary of Acorn Agri. He has 16 years’ accounting and financial management experience in the investment banking and private equity sectors. Gerhard has been an integral part of the Acorn team since inception and is responsible for the setup of the fund structures, fund accounting, financial reporting, compliance and general administration of the funds.