PIC reveals its unlisted holdings

Johannesburg - The Public Investment Corporation, Africa’s biggest fund manager, has for the first time detailed its holdings in closely-held companies following a campaign by the Democratic Alliance to make the investor more transparent in its dealings.

The PIC, which oversees R1.9 trillion ($136 billion), most of which is made up of South African government employees pensions, used its Isibaya Fund to make investments totalling R44.6 billion in unlisted companies, Mcebisi Jonas, the deputy minister of finance and chairman of the PIC, told lawmakers in Cape Town on Tuesday.

File picture: Denis Farrell. Credit: AP

“It took a long time to release the list because we had to get proper legal authority that we were not breaking any confidences with the companies we had invested in,” he said.

The PIC committed to invest as much as R13.4 billion in cement producer AfriSam Group and has investments in Independent Media totalling more than R1.2 billion, the Pretoria-based company said in a separate emailed statement. It also has stakes in the Industrial Development Corporation, Bayport Management, property company Pareto, a unit of the Royal Bafokeng Holdings and VBS Mutual Bank, the lender that gave President Jacob Zuma a R7.81m mortgage to pay for non-security-related features at his private Nkandla residence.

The PIC made the disclosures to the Standing Committee on Finance “to demonstrate its commitment to transparency as a public institution”, the company said.

“The PIC cannot have an investment approach based purely on short-term benchmarks with little focus on economic growth” and the Isibaya Fund allows the money manager the chance to try generate returns, while also pursuing developmental objectives, it said.

* With assistance from Renee Bonorchis