The PIC’s top job is up for grabs

2010-11-13 14:53

Two candidates have emerged as front runners to take over the chief executive position at the Public ­Investment Corporation (PIC), the country’s hottest asset manager job.

City Press has been reliably ­informed by people in asset management that Albertinah Kekana, PIC’s chief operating officer, and Philisiwe Buthelezi, chief executive of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) have the best shot at the job.

Acting PIC chief executive Daniel Matjila was also asked to throw his hat into the ring, but allegedly told the National Treasury that he was not interested in the job.

“Matjila said he would like to go back to his full-time job of chief ­investment officer, once a new chief executive was found,” said a source familiar with the matter, who did not want to be named.

The position became vacant ­after Brian Molefe left the state-owned asset manager at the end of June, following a seven-year stint. Under Molefe’s tutelage, the PIC grew the value of assets under its management to more than R870?billion, from R308 billion.

Spokesperson for the National Treasury Jabulani Sikhakhane confirmed that the department had been interviewing potential candidates, but declined to reveal their names.

“The process of interviewing candidates is under way.

“It is expected that the new chief executive will be announced soon,” Sikhakhane said.

He added that the National Treasury would take into account the affirmative-action policy when appointing the new PIC boss, boosting the chances of both Kekana and Buthelezi, who are both highly capable black female managers.

When approached for comment regarding the search for Molefe’s successor, PIC spokesperson Penny Motsamai referred all media enquiries to the National Treasury.

NEF spokesperson Moemise Motsepe said Buthelezi regularly received job offers but declined to say if the National Treasury had approached her.

Whoever gets the job will become the most powerful fund manager in South Africa, ­controlling R911?billion, which is invested in many of the JSE-listed companies.

The assets managed by the PIC are more than double the assets managed by the country’s second-largest asset manager, Old Mutual Investment Group SA (Omigsa).

Omigsa has R405?billion in ­assets under management, making the firm’s chief executive, ­Diane Radley, the second most powerful fund manager in South Africa.

Thabo Dloti, the chief executive of Stanlib, is a distant third with R330?billion under the administration of his firm.

Stanlib is a joint venture between Standard Bank and life insurer Liberty Life.

Over the last few years, the PIC has become a feared shareholder activist, challenging big JSE-listed companies on executive remuneration and corporate-governance ­issues.

Molefe famously clashed with corporate giants, such as petrochemicals group Sasol and diversified industrial firm Barloworld, for dragging their feet in appointing black people to their boards and senior executive management structures.

Just last month the asset manager voiced its opposition to the ­controversial R9.1?billion black economic empowerment deal ­between steel producer ArcelorMittal SA (Amsa) and the Ayigobi consortium, which includes President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, as a shareholder.

The PIC, which holds 9% of ­Amsa, said it would not support the transaction until concerns and “perceived irregularities” were ­resolved.

The PIC manages assets of 36 public bodies, ranging from retirement, social security to guardian funds.

The largest of these funds is the Government Employees Pension Fund, which accounts for 90% of assets managed by the PIC.

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