Ex-PIC head says he would have called extraordinary GM to 'remedy' R4.3bn AYO investment

Dan Matjila, the former head of the Public Investment Corporation, has testified that he would have called an extraordinary general meeting to remedy problems at JSE-listed IT group AYO Technology Solutions if he were still head of the PIC.

He resumed his testimony before the commission if inquiry into the PIC on Monday after hearings were halted last week due to protests by municipal workers in Tshwane. 

Matjila resigned from the PIC in November 2018, 11 months after the state-run asset manager bought 29% of AYO's stock for R4.3bn. The IT group's share price has since declined from its listing price of R43 a share to R8 a share. 

Matjila was responding to questions from assistant commissioner and former governor of the SA Reserve Bank Gill Marcus. Marcus asked Matjila what he would have done given that there "appeared to be misstatements of fact" in AYO's annual financial statements around profit and interest income. AYO has denied any wrongdoing. 

The PIC has filed documents in the Western Cape High Court in a bid to recover its R4.3bn investment, arguing the decision to enter the subscription agreement is unlawful. 

'Remedy the situation' 

"How would you perceive that from where you are sitting right now if you were the CEO?" asked Marcus. 

Matjila - who had earlier said it was a misconception that the PIC lost money when it invested in the JSE-listed IT company - said the Companies Act allowed a shareholder that owned more than 10% of a company's shares to call an extraordinary general meeting.

"I would have probably moved on that a long time ago to remedy the situation,' he said, without saying exactly what remedies he would have proposed. 

Earlier he was asked for his views on how he assessed cumulative risk in companies in linked to Cape Town businessman Iqbal Survé's investment holding company the Sekunjalo Group. 

According to Fin24 calculations, companies linked to Survé have received about R5.35bn in funding from the PIC. This includes a R200m investment in Premier Fishing, R4.3bn in AYO, and R850m in Independent Media. Sagarmatha, also part of the Sekunjalo group, had hoped to receive R3bn from the PIC, but the deal fell through.

Survé, testifying before the commission in early April, said that the PIC's investments in the Sekunjalo Group were above board and accused rival media companies of working to undermine him. 

Matjila, in response in Marcus's question, said the biggest risk was not whether the companies were linked to the same owner, but whether they had appropriate governance structures that allowed them to grow and create wealth.  

He said the PIC should not reject investing in a company because it had previously invested in the same group, saying it may miss out on an excellent opportunity. 

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