When the Bank was established in 1921, the majority of central banks worldwide had private shareholders (or ‘stockholders’ as they were occasionally called). A similar structure was introduced in South Africa.
Internationally, however, this approach has changed since the 1930s. Nationalisation of central banks during the period of economic hardship in the midst of the Great Depression commenced with the nationalisation of the central banks of New Zealand in 1935 and Denmark in 1936. After World War II in the wake of state ownership of key industries in numerous countries nationalisation of central banks continued.
The structure of shareholding in the Bank has however not been amended since its inception and it is a juristic person in terms of its own Act. The South African Reserve Bank and seven other central banks (Belgium, Greece, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Turkey and US) have shareholders other than the governments of their respective countries.
The Bank currently has some 650 shareholders. Shares were delisted from the JSE on 2 May 2002 as amendments to the listings requirements of the JSE made continued listing impossible. Since delisting, the shares are predominantly traded on an over-the-counter trading and transfer facility. Except for the provision of the Act that no shareholder shall hold, or hold in aggregate with his, her or its Associates, more than 10 000 shares of the total number of 2 000 000 issued shares, there are no other limitations on shareholding. The dividend payable to shareholders is limited to 10c per share per annum (in total R200 000 per annum).
The Bank annually holds an ordinary meeting of shareholders at its Head Office building in Pretoria. On this occasion the Governor, as Chairperson, delivers an annual address on matters covering the state of the economy, certain aspects of monetary policy and the operations of the Bank. At this meeting the Bank tables a comprehensive "Annual Report" on its operations and finances for approval by shareholders. The "Annual Report" also contains a discussion of monetary policy.