During the apartheid era, the company's South African holdings represented the largest private investment in the country by a British corporation. Agnew himself drew criticism for refusing to withdraw from South Africa, though the businessman later said he thought the best way to destroy apartheid was to "feed it rather than starve it."
He provided funding and support for Michael Young to engage in the secret talks dramatized in Endgame, although Agnew made it clear that his involvement could not be overt.
Consolidate Gold Fields was taken over by another British conglomerate in 1989. Agnew went on to serve as chairman of other companies. In addition, he served as chairman of the board for the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Center, where he continues as director.
Agnew received a knighthood for services to international human rights and conservation.
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