Dr. Iqbal Surve. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/ African News Agency (ANA)
DR IQBAL Survé, the chairman of the Sekunjalo Group, has slammed a Sunday Times report and denied wrongdoing at the ICT company, AYO Technology Solutions, as has been claimed by former executives of the company.

He said that, contrary to the report, AYO has no debts and had shown growth in profitability.

The AYO listing capital - received from the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) in December 2017 - was R4.3billion, and its cash reserve currently stands at R4.5bn.

He dismissed yesterday’s page 1 article headlined “Survé’s R4.3bn PIC piggy bank” as part of an ongoing smear campaign by media house Tiso Blackstar which owns the Sunday Times.

He said the barrage of articles on Sekunjalo companies have the intent of defaming him and damaging his businesses and hurting their investors.

“AYO businesses continue to generate cash and it has lined up significant acquisitions in order to fulfil its strategic plan to trans- form the ICT landscape in South Africa in favour of black companies and ICT professionals,” said Dr Survé.

He claimed that former AYO executives, former chief executive Kevin Hardy and former chief investment officer Siphiwe Nodwele, who according to the Sunday Times were concerned about money being transferred to 3 Laws Capital, were aggrieved.

Dr Survé said that Hardy and Nodwele had wanted to place R3.2bn of the capital raised by AYO in four transactions.

They were unhappy that their decisions had to be ratified by the AYO Technology chief investment officer Abdul Malick Salie, who was not in favour of the deals.

The two have claimed in the Sunday Times that Dr Survé interfered in the business and that attempts were made to transfer money to companies linked to Sekunjalo.

When the AYO board was reconstituted at the insistence of the PIC, the new board chairperson Dr Wallace Mgoqi wanted Hardy and Nodwele to sign a conflict of interest statement.

He indicated that they should subject themselves to a forensic inquiry, in particular with respect of one of the proposed deals.

But instead Hardy and Nodwele resigned.

Dr Survé claimed that the pair then allegedly tried to shake down the company in an effort to get a generous settlement package.

He said the AYO board was confident that its current management team was well placed to execute its strategy for the future.

He urged that far from being criticised, AYO should be applauded for taking due regard for investors’ money - in particular, public money from the PIC.

He said that AYO had presented a sound investment case to the PIC.

While he could not comment on the PIC’s processes, from AYO’s point of view, it raised the capital and intends to spend the capital as part of its acquisition strategy.

“AYO is proud of the fact that today, just more than a year after its listing, it has more cash on hand than what was raised at the listing.

“However, this point seems to be deliberately ignored (in reporting)”, Dr Survé said.

Referring to the investment of AYO in 3 Laws Capital and other asset management companies, Dr Survé said there was nothing unusual about it, as “all significant corporates in South Africa had a central treasury function aimed at ensuring that cash on hand was placed with multiple institutions such as banks, asset managers and other financial services institutions.”

Dr Survé said the Sekunjalo group allocated capital to registered asset managers and banking institutions. “In AYO’s case, the board took a decision to allocate R1.5bn of its R4.3bn to banks and other asset management institutions in order to optimise returns”.

The suggestion that these funds had been misappropriated was misleading and defamatory, he said. The attack on AYO and the Sekunjalo group was an attack on transformation in the country, cloaked as pointing out governance issues, Dr Survé said.

Responding to the suggestion that AYO paid his membership of the World Economic Forum, he said that Sekunjalo, like many corporates, had a shared services structure, which allowed executives to participate in multilateral forums.

This was particularly important for black executives, he said.

Responding to the suggestions that IT staff of Independent Media now formed part of AYO, he said the Sekunjalo group did not need to explain its strategy with regard to its business to its competitors.