Chairman of the Sekunjalo Group and executive chairman of Independent Media Dr Iqbal Survé. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria -  Chairman of the Sekunjalo Group and executive chairman of Independent Media Dr Iqbal Survé said he had resisted overtures from rival media group Tiso Blackstar as it would have led to the loss of hundreds of jobs.

Survé was on Wednesday testifying before the Mpati Commission of Inquiry into allegations of impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). 

Emmanuel Lediga, an assistant to the commissioner Justice Lex Mpati, asked Survé if the PIC had held a meeting with Survé and Tiso Blackstar to address the rivalry between the two media groups. Survé acknowledged that such a meeting had taken place, saying he agreed to the meeting because he did not "think a war situation between media houses is good for anyone especially when you are dealing with the lives of people employed by both companies".

“There were fundamental differences in both companies in terms of a merger. The first issue was diversification in the economy. Our company is predominantly black with women in leadership positions.

“When (Andrew) Bonamour, (CEO of Tiso Blackstar) initially approached me to merge the two companies he said we should merge the entities, retrench half of the combined staff and we would have a profitability of R250 million in media assets.”

Survé said he was not happy with such a large-scale retrenchment process in an economy that was shedding jobs.

“I thought that retrenching 1 500 black people who have bought into vision, philosophy and aspiration could not be the way to deal with this. I put in money from Sekunjalo into Independent Media every month. Philosophically Tiso and Independent Media have a different outlook. If you were a pure capitalist you would merge the brands, retrench people and profitability would improve.”

Survé said he then found that Tiso made him the face of Sekunjalo and Independent Media although his companies were run by excellent boards and people in leadership positions.