Altron chief executive Robbie Venter. Photo: Leon Nicholas.
JOHANNESBURG - JSE-listed Allied Electronics Corporation (Altron) on Friday cleared its subsidiary Altech UEC for any wrongdoing in the digital terrestrial television (DTT) set-top box tender with the government.

The share price gained more than 7percent to R12.19 a share in early trade on Friday, up from Thursday’s closing price of R11.21 in response to the news. However, it closed 4.55percent weaker to R10.70 a share.

Altron was responding to newspaper reports of allegations that Altech UEC had offered President Jacob Zuma’s son Mxolisi a R54million bribe in return for using his father’s influence to gain the multibillion rand set-top box contract.

The company was also among 12 suspected of collusion and its office had been raided by the Competition Commission in November as part of a probe in the Department of Trade and Industry tender.

“In August this year, in response to certain media reports, Altron initiated an internal investigation which found no wrong-doing on the part of Altech UEC,” Friday’s statement said.

“Subsequent to the Competition Commission dawn raid, the company appointed an external legal firm, Bowmans, to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations,” the group said. The group expects Bowman’s final report at the end of January. Altron said it had committed to fully co-operate with the investigations conducted by the Competition Commission.

Altech UEC manufactures decoders used by Naspers’s pay-TV arm, MultiChoice. It said that its disposal of Altech UEC had been delayed as result of the Competition Commission investigations.

Altron said its troubles started when its subsidiary responded to the tender in 2014. It applied for the business, but was unsuccessful in its bid. It said at the time of the issuing of the tender, Altech UEC was one of only a few companies in South Africa with the capability and capacity to manufacture large quantities of set-top boxes.

“As a result, third parties approached Altech UEC with a view to partner with them on commercial manufacturing and supply agreements relating to the opportunity. These engagements were encouraged by the government to promote growth in the SME sector,” the group said.

The group said it continued to engage with the third parties but in the end it took a commercial decision not to enter into agreements with any of these entities. “No monies or fees were paid to any individual or party related to these engagements,” the group said.

The tender was eventually awarded in March 2015 to “companies not related to Altron,” the group said.

“Altron does not condone, support or encourage any action that is in contravention of the group's values, corporate governance codes and regulations,” the statement read.