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Independent Media's Iqbal Survé set to testify at PIC inquiry

Apr 02 2019 10:46
Sibongile Khumalo and Jan Cronje, Fin24

Iqbal Survé, the chairperson of media group Independent Media and the head of Sekunjalo, is expected to give evidence before the judicial commission of inquiry into state-run asset manager the Public Investment Corporation on Tuesday. 

Survé is expected to testify after Kuben Naidoo, the deputy governor of the SA Reserve Bank. 

The inquiry, which started its work in January, is investigating allegations of wrongdoing at the asset manager, including in its internal governance and how it made controversial investment decisions.

Two of the investments that have come under scrutiny are linked to Survé.

The first is the PIC's decision to invest R4.3bn in AYO Technology Solutions in late 2017. Survé holds an indirect stake in the company, via African Equity Empowerment Investments. 

In January the inquiry heard from suspended PIC Assistant Portfolio Manager Victor Seanie that the AYO investment was a "foregone conclusion” with then PIC head Dan Matjila using his authority to overrule concerns about the deal. 

In February The Sunday Times published a leaked recording of Survé where he appeared to be pressuring board members of AYO to withhold information from the PIC. 

He denied this was the case, saying the recording was an "informal discussion".

"There is not a single lie that has been told to the PIC, as has been suggested in the press report, and the Sekunjalo Group, AEEI, AYO and Dr Survé continue to feel aggrieved by this unfair treatment in the public domain," a joint statement by the boards of AEEI, AAYO, Sekunjalo Investment Holdings and Survé read. 

The second Survé-linked investment that has been probed by the inquiry is the PIC's 2013 investment in Independent News. 

The inquiry heard on Monday form Benedict Mongalo, who worked as a senior credit risk analyst during the time of the transaction, that there were concerns that print media was a "sunset industry" with declining circulation when the deal was concluded. He added that Survé did not have prior experience in running a print - or any - media company.

In December, meanwhile, the Government Employees Pension Fund said it had an impairment of R1.06bn in Independent News and Media SA loans, after the company failed to make an interest payment at the end of August.

Survé and Sekunjalo, meanwhile, have argued that he is the focus of defamation by rival media companies.

A press released published on February 11 on IOL, the online arm of Independent Media, states; “Sekunjalo and its investee companies have the highest levels of governance. The only issue is that we are one of the most successful black corporates and are paying the price for competing against established interests."

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