JSE summoned to PIC inquiry following Iqbal Survé testimony

Iqbal Survé at Parliament for the State of the Nation Address on February 7 2019.
Iqbal Survé at Parliament for the State of the Nation Address on February 7 2019.
Image: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) has been summoned to appear before the commission of inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to explain what led to the failure of Iqbal Survé’s Sagarmatha Technologies from being listed in 2018last year.

Commissioner Gill Marcus, who is assisting inquiry chair, retired judge Lex Mpati, issued the request ahead of proceedings on Monday.

Marcus’s request follows two days of testimony last week from Survé, who is the chair of Sekunjalo and African Equity Empowerment Investments.

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Survé, who is also the chair of Independent Media Group, blamed the failure of Sagarmatha Technologies to list on the JSE on Tiso Blackstar and one of its titles, Business Day, accusing them of lobbying to force the JSE to cancel the listing.

“They (JSE) did that because you had our competitors Tiso Blackstar publications, Business Day, as they continue to do, and eNCA and others as they continue to do, blatantly putting negative propaganda in the public space to force the JSE to look for a reason to stifle this listing,” he said.

Survé claimed that had Sagarmatha listed in New York, it would probably have had a valuation of $10bn (R142bn).

Sagarmatha’s failure to submit its annual financial statements to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) was behind the JSE’s decision not to allow it to go ahead with a proposed listing in April last year. 

In a letter to the company at the time, the JSE said Sagarmatha did not submit its annual financial statement to the CIPC at the time when the prelisting statement was approved.

This represented a contravention of the Companies Act and therefore of the JSE’s listings requirements.

The JSE said that it was not aware the annual financial statements had not been submitted to the CIPC when it approved the prelisting statement.

The PIC, which manages about R2-trillion, mostly for government employees and pensioners, controversially invested in Survé’s acquisition of Independent, as well as subscribing for R4.3bn of shares in Ayo Technologies in December 2017 for a 29% stake, at a price that was widely seen to be inflated.

The PIC has vowed to recover the money for Ayo, which was allegedly invested without following due processes.

In July 2018, then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene said the PIC was working on an exit from Independent Media.

Last week Marcus, a former governor of the Reserve Bank, said former PIC CEO Dan Matjila sent Survé and Independent Media a letter of default in August 2018 regarding its loan and accrued interest of R1.3bn.

Survé confirmed that the company, which publishes newspapers including The Star and the Cape Times, had not serviced that loan since.

with Ann Crotty