Possible Ayo share manipulation probed

Iqbal Surve. Picture: Lerato Maduna
Iqbal Surve. Picture: Lerato Maduna

Beleaguered Ayo Technology Solutions is facing an investigation related to possible market manipulation.

The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) this week published its regular report that lists probes into insider trading and share manipulation.

City Press has reported on the suspicious trading in Ayo shares going back to at least May last year.

The FSCA is focusing on trade in the Ayo shares in May and June, and it is easy to see what might have raised eyebrows.

In June, Iqbal Survé’s Sekunjalo Investment Holdings started purchasing Ayo shares, and is continuing to do so.

City Press has analysed JSE records to show that Sekunjalo has by far been the largest buyer of Ayo shares since June, despite the fact that it is indirectly the major shareholder of Ayo to begin with.

More interesting is the back and forth trading between a shelf company recently renamed Kata Strategic Investment and another Ayo shareholder, Miramare Investments.

The companies are related as they have a common director – Leo Altini.

Kata also recently appointed Survé’s brother-in-law, Khalid Abdullah, as a director.

In June, Kata, then still only involving Altini, bought 145 250 Ayo shares from Miramare.

This meant Altini was buying shares from himself.

Fast-forward to December and Miramare for some reason sold the same 145 250 shares back to Kata.

The only difference was that Abdullah had by then become a director of Kata.

This back and forth trading, alongside share purchases by Sekunjalo as well as Survé’s financial services company 3 Laws Capital, means that the set of related parties have, to a large extent, determined the share price of Ayo.

City Press previously reported that the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which invested R4.3 billion in Ayo, also insisted on a downside protection agreement that would see it get paid a penalty if the Ayo share price fell below a certain level.

That level is unknown, but the share price has fallen to R18 – the PIC paid R43 per share in December 2017.

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