Carol Paton.

CAPE TOWN – Tiso Blackstar and some of its journalists, like Carol Paton, can only thrive in an environment of fake news and hypocrisy.

While the PIC recently called for a ceasefire between Tiso Blackstar and Independent Media, the ongoing lies pilfered by Tiso’s publications against Dr Iqbal Survé, the Executive Chairman of Independent Media and Chairman of Sekunjalo Group, cannot remain unchallenged.

Last week the PIC issued a statement which cleared up a blatant lie told by Tiso Blackstar which implicated the PIC in a so-called meeting to discuss “concerns” about the management of Independent Media. This was a lie which compelled the PIC to issue a statement to the contrary.

Tiso is at it once again. On Friday, Paton’s article on BusinessLive and in Business Day accused Dr Survé of not having repaid a loan to the PIC.

The truth is that the PIC did not lend money to Dr Survé or Sekunjalo Group. The PIC funded a Sekunjalo-led consortium structure which is a ring-fenced investment entity.

Paton did this deliberately to create the impression that Sekunjalo and Dr Survé are indebted to the PIC. This was intended to mislead and misinform readers, the general public and the broader investment community. She is driving an agenda which has nothing to do with normal business practice.

The Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, in response to a question posed by DA MP David Maynier in the National Assembly, about whether the outstanding loan to the PIC had been settled, responded by indicating that there is a process of engagement underway with Independent Media and acknowledged the difficult market conditions under which print media companies have been operating for the last few years.  He also noted that “cumulatively over the past two years the total returns of Tiso Black Star Group are down by 78.22%”.  This radical decline represents a loss of billions to investors.  Paton’s deviant obsession with Independent Media is nothing but a pathetic attempt to shift the focus away from Tiso, which has much more to account for.

Notwithstanding the recent focus on Steinhoff by Financial Mail, sister publication of Business Day, has Paton ever probed, with such passion, how Steinhoff will repay the R9,35bn it borrowed from the PIC as well as loans from various financial institutions both locally and abroad?  The same can be asked of several other companies which have debt owing to the PIC. But her obsession with Dr Survé, Sekunjalo and Independent Media is unashamedly Machiavellian and serves only to drive an agenda which is devoid of normal business practice.

The underhanded actions of Tiso Blackstar, through their various publications, knows no bounds. We will continue to set the record straight as we have done since 2013 when Independent Media was acquired by the Sekunjalo-led consortium to the dismay of its detractors.  This is not an attempt to ignore the PIC’s call for a ceasefire, but to counter the blatant distortion of the facts which are aimed at maligning our efforts and defaming the company, its management and its employees.

Released on behalf of Independent Media.