Dr Daniel Majtila the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Investment Corporation. Picture: Bheki Radebe
CAPE TOWN - The public Investments Corporation (PIC) was making progress in transforming the asset management industry and increasing spend to black-owned brokerage firms, PIC’s head of corporate affairs, Deon Botha, said in an interview. The number of mandates remained at 18, but 14 were now fully managed by black-owned firms.

At least R30billion was allocated to black asset managers in the 2016/17 financial year, R23.9bn of which was the successful conclusion of the request for proposal process, he said. As at June 1, 2017, 57.4percent of externalised assets were managed by black-owned firms.

Botha said that over the last three financial years the asset manager had increased the percentage of brokerage spend to BEE brokers from 40.9percent in the 2014/15 financial year to 56.6percent during 2016/17. External managers were mandated to allocate at least 40percent of brokerage spend to black-owned brokerage firms. All managers have met this minimum criterion.

The figures for the financial year to March 2018 will be made available in three months time, once PIC’s audit process has been concluded.

Botha said that the asset manager was driving transformation in countless companies across the portfolio, with the B-BBEE Developmental Asset Manager Programme being one of its flagships.

“The programme commenced in 2009, with the purpose of transforming the asset management industry and increasing the participation of black investment professionals in the industry.

“This was to be given effect through allocations to black asset managers and holding traditional established firms accountable to transformation targets. At that stage, R64bn was invested across 18 mandates, with seven managed by black-owned firms,” Botha said.

To questions posed by Business Report on whether the PIC was delivering on its mandate amid claims that the asset manager had been making questionable investment decisions, Botha responded to the affirmative.

“Our clients are happy that we have consistently exceeded their investment objectives. As an example, the Government Employees Pension Fund is fully funded by 115percent. This would not have been the case if the PIC was making bad investment decisions.”

More than 80percent of assets were allocated to traditional established firms across listed equities and listed properties funds. By December 2016, these assets had grown to R116bn through market movement, as well as additional allocations by the PIC.

He said the PIC’s South African-listed equity portfolio had been outperforming the JSE SWIX All Share, and assets under its management had been growing over the years.

“We even managed to protect our clients’ assets in the 2008 market crash, as we did fall as much as the other market participants.”

He said with unlisted investments included, the PIC portfolio still performed better than some of the large asset managers, even if one looked at the short term.

“We view unlisted investments as important, in that it generates both financial and social returns. Among others, social returns include job creation, empowerment and transformation.”

Chief executive Dr Dan Matjila said in Parliament this week that in the year to March assets under management grew by R165bn to R2.084trillion.

However, MP David Maynier, DA Shadow Minister of Finance, who has previously asked the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance, Yunus Carrim, to schedule a hearing, still feels there is a need for a hearing.

“I think it's imperative that we schedule a proper hearing, given that we were not able to get straight answers to straight questions about questionable investments by the PIC,” he said.

- BUSINESS REPORT