WATCH: Dan Matjila defends AYO deal as 'brilliant' but says it was hammered by deliberate bad media publicity
Durban - The former chief executive of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) Dan Matjila, stands by his decision to invest in AYO Technologies, saying it was a “brilliant” investment opportunity.
Matjila said when the opportunity arose for them to invest in the company, the PIC saw it as an opportunity to change the complexion of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange which too many people see as a business club for white males.
On Thursday morning a video of Matjila was being widely circulated on Twitter showing him explaining the role of the PIC to JJ Tabane, the host of #YourViewon405, a flagship night programme of Newzroom Afrika news channel.
In the interview, which was conducted on Tuesday (February 25, 2020), Matjila stuck to his guns like he did when he appeared before the Mpati commission which was probing the affairs of the PIC last year. He insisted that AYO, which is part of Sekunjalo Group, had its shares hammered by bad publicity immediately after it was listed on the JSE.
“I think about a few minutes ago you were complaining about a stock market (the JSE) that has got about three percent of black ownership. One of the things that we were driving is participation of blacks in the economy but most importantly it has to be black companies playing in the right sectors in the economy. So, when the AYO technology opportunity came I saw it as a good fit to what we were trying to do, black participation in the technology sector. I thought it was brilliant, I still believe it is, you know. It eventually listed… I don’t regret (backing it).
“It listed, obviously the shares went down because it was hammered because of bad publicity, you can’t expect the share price to run when there is bad publicity. The media made a song and dance about how bad this transaction is and eventually investors would pull back… It’s unfortunate. By the way this was an investment holding company raising cash to pursue certain opportunities in the ICT sector, you know, cash was there but the share price was reflecting a different figure altogether” Matjila said.
The publicity Matjila was referring to came from competitors of Sekunjalo Independent Media who repeatedly alleged without providing solid evidence that the deal was very dodgy, a charge repeatedly denied by AYO executives. The PIC report now sits with President Cyril Ramaphosa and reports indicate that the AYO deal and Sekunjalo group chairman, Dr Iqbal Surve, have been cleared of wrongdoing.
Matjila lamented that the PIC is no longer pursuing its goal of changing the face of the economy by bringing black people into the mainstream economy because of political interference.
“But we are being stopped in our tracks from doing our work. The PIC is not functioning now as far as I am concerned now. It’s in a difficult space right… yes because of the enquiry… we had a plan we were executing slowly,” he responded when asked whether the PIC can help to change the structure of the economy.