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Take it back or else: Survé's ultimatum to PIC exec over possible liquidation application

Oct 15 2019 18:42
Chairperson of media group Independent Media and t

Chairperson of media group Independent Media and the head of Sekunjalo, Iqbal Surve gives evidence during the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation on April 02, 2019. (Photo by Gallo Images/Phill Magakoe)

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After a Public Investment Corporation executive told MPs that the institution is considering an application to liquidate Sekunjalo, Iqbal Survé has given her 24 hours to "publicly correct her falsehood".

PIC acting head of legal services Lindiwe Dlamini told MPs on Tuesday that the state-run asset manager is considering submitting an application to liquidate Sekunjalo.

The PIC gave Sekunjalo Independent Media (SIM) a loan in 2013 to help it buy out Independent Media - the publisher of newspaper titles including the Star, the Cape Times and I’solezwe lesiXhosa - from its previous Irish owners, Fin24 previously reported.

In the wake of Dlamini's statement on Tuesday, Survé said her words had created the impression that Sekunjalo - the investment holding company that acts as a parent company to many of the firms in the Sekunjalo stable - owes the asset manager money. But he said this was not the case.

"Dlamini is well aware of the fact that the special purpose vehicle, Sekunjalo Independent Media, that was created for the purpose of securing Independent Media, is an entirely different juristic entity."

He said his group will "proceed with the appropriate action" if Dlamini misses his deadline.

"To the contrary, Sekunjalo has invested into companies in which the PIC is a shareholder, and has, in fact, loaned those companies money to assist in their operation and growth.

"To suggest that there is any basis on which the PIC can liquidate Sekunjalo, is deceitful, reckless and aimed to destroy and destabilise our business. Today’s comments and last week’s FSCA raid are not unrelated, they have been purposefully designed to cause maximum harm to Sekunjalo and myself," Survé said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

Last week, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority raided Sekunjalo's offices in Cape Town, as part of a market manipulation probe which may be related to AYO. AYO is associated with Sekunjalo and Survé.

The PIC invested R4.3bn in AYO in December 2017, shortly before the IT company listed on the JSE. But commission of inquiry into the PIC heard evidence there may have been major misrepresentations AYO's share value at the time the PIC made the investment. AYO has denied any wrongdoing .

The corporation, meanwhile,  has lodged a civil claim to recover the money.

Dlamini told MPs on Tuesday the corporation is also considering an anti-dissipation order to freeze AYO's assets, as it is suspected they might be moved offshore. The PIC has contacted the Financial Intelligence Centre and the SA Reserve Bank for assistance.

In a separate statement – but released via the same PR agency - AYO said it was "beyond shocked" by the PIC’s accusation that it may be siphoning money offshore.

"This is yet another attempt to portray AYO in a negative light and in order to force Parliament’s hand. The PIC has no evidence on which, it can have based its thinking and as such, has blatantly lied to Parliament," AYO said.

Compiled by Helena Wasserman and Lameez Omarjee

* Update: This article was updated on Wednesday October 16 to clarify that the PIC loan was made to Sekunjalo Independent Media, and not the investment holding company Sekunjalo. 

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