The Public Investment Corporation has for the first time weighed in on the ongoing row between media companies Tiso Blackstar and Independent Media, dismissing recent claims that it had ever approached Tiso in terms of managing Independent.
Instead, the PIC claims it was Tiso who had in fact approached it in terms of facilitating a meeting with Independent to discuss possible areas of collaboration.
Tiso Blackstar had earlier claimed that it was approached by the PIC in 2016 for "help with Independent Media" while Independent's executive chairman Iqbal Surve had claimed that Tiso had approached Independent's shareholders, including the PIC, with a view to "consolidate the newspapers of the two businesses". Tiso has denied this.
In its statement, the PIC said the "spat" has "unnecessarily been going on for an extended period".
"Up to now, the PIC has not expressed a view on this spat, given that it is invested in both Independent Media and Tiso and always tries not to interfere in the internal affairs of investee companies ...
"However, the sustained spat requires that the PIC deviate from this tradition."
Without dealing with the specific issues that the two organisations are fighting about, the PIC claims it has never at any time requested Tiso to assist it with regards to the management of Independent Media.
"The continued spat does not help the media industry at all and helps to entrench the belief that it is subjective in its posture," said the PIC.
"The PIC strongly encourages media freedom, as it is a fundamental right enshrined in the South African Constitution. The PIC’s support for this freedom is practical and extends to media diversity – in terms of ownership, control and diversity of views."
The PIC said it strongly believes that both Tiso and Independent Media must at all times concern themselves with and focus on two fundamental issues: creating value for all investors; and informing and educating members of the public on important things that matter in their lives in the name of nation building.
Previously Tiso, in an earlier statement, said the PIC was allegedly concerned about the running of Independent Media and was encountering difficulty in obtaining financial information from Survé.
Tiso said the PIC allegedly had growing concerns about being repaid money loaned to Survé to fund his acquisition of Independent. Tiso alleged that a meeting was set up by the PIC for it to meet Survé at the Maslow Hotel in Johannesburg on September 29, 2016. Tiso claims the outcome of the meeting was, however, "unproductive".
This followed Surve's own claims earlier that it was Tiso who "surreptitiously approached the shareholders of Independent Media, including the PIC, on many occasions to try and consolidate the newspapers of the two businesses".
The claims were made in a column by Survé, which was published in Independent Media publications.
The PIC’s investment in the media sector:
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