South Africa - Pretoria - 16 July 2019 - Former PIC CEO Dan Matjila testifies at the PIC Commission of Inquiry. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)
JOHANNESBURG - Former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) head Dan Matjila has dismissed suggestions that the state-owned asset manager’s involvement with Independent Media South Africa (INMSA), Sagarmatha and Ayo Technologies were due to his close relationship with owner Dr Iqbal Survé.

Matjila admitted meeting with Dr Survé, but rejected claims the transactions resulted from an alleged questionable relationship between him and the chairman of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings. He was testifying in Pretoria yesterday before the Mpati Commission of Inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing at the PIC.

“Yes there was engagement with Dr Survé and the reasons for his was not because of friendship per se, but because I and my colleagues were worried the PIC was being increasingly exposed to high risk and I needed to be closely involved with the major players,” Matjila said. Because there was talk of restructuring the businesses involved, he deemed it fit to be on the front lines of discussions to ensure decisions were in PIC's best interest.

The Mpati Commission also heard that while there had been hope for the PIC to consider a conversion of the investment in INMSA into Sagarmartha for listing purposes, this didn’t materialise as the organisation considered the R7.06 per share evaluation figure that had been offered as too high.

In November 2017, Matjila said, he was invited to a meeting in Cape Town by Dr Survé and the Sagarmatha management team. This, he said, was after the R2trillion asset manager’s executives sat in a gathering with Parliament’s standing committee of finance on the new PIC Bill. Paul Lamontagne, who was earmarked for the position of Sagarmatha chief executive after listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, gave a presentation on the technology holding company’s listing plans.

Matjila added that in January last year, a transaction team had reported that Sagarmatha intended to list within two months. It stated that the company would have served as the exit strategy for the PIC investment in INMSA.

The commission quizzed Matjila on testimony made by some of his former colleagues on how he had allegedly pressured them into signing deals. However, he insisted he never went behind the PIC’s back to ensure the deal continued. Asked by commissioners Gill Marcus and Emmanuel Lediga, who assist retired Judge Lex Mpati, whether he had met Dr Survé alone to discuss Sagarmatha’s listing, Matjila said no.

“The first meeting was in Cape Town in the presence of senior management and others. From there on there was email correspondence,” he said. All correspondence was forwarded to the PIC team involved.

Matjila said the PIC has a R1.27 billion investment in Independent but has not invested in Sagamartha.

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