THE BOTTOM LINE
How far is PIC from exiting its tangled Independent holding?
Public Investment Corporation boss Dan Matjila again dodges the question of that R1-billion investment
Dan Matjila, CEO of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), told parliament’s standing committee on finance on Tuesday that he could not disclose any details of the exit strategy for the Independent Media Group because it involves market-sensitive information.
Matjila was responding to questions from David Maynier, the DA’s shadow minister for finance. Matjila’s statement will have had a familiar ring to it. It was almost exactly the same as he told the MPs in October 2017.Maynier had asked Matjila if Sagarmatha was intended to be the PIC’s exit strategy. Sagarmatha Technologies, as you will recall, was the “unicorn” linked to Iqbal Surve’s Sekunjalo group that didn’t manage to get a JSE listing in April because of a failure to submit financial statements to the companies and intellectual property commission.
Maynier’s question to Matjila reflected market speculation that Sekunjalo would use the proceeds from the listing to repay the PIC for the funds it had provided in 2013 to buy out the former Irish owners of Independent News & Media.
The most recently available information on the PIC’s unlisted investments reveal it has an exposure of just over R1-billion to the media company. This comprises equity valued at R166-million and the remainder in debt, with R408-million of that due to be repaid in August.
But Sekunjalo does have another option. Khalid Abdulla, CEO of African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) told analysts recently about the possible payment of a sizeable special dividend, a hefty chunk of which would go to major shareholder Sekunjalo. (AEEI is the JSE-listed public trading company of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings.)
AEEI is cash flush after concluding the proposed sale of its 30% stake in BTSA to recently listed Ayo for almost R1-billion. Ayo, which is also controlled by Sekunjalo, was able to pay the R1-billion after securing a PIC-backed JSE listing in December.