AYO’s key relationships with companies has been prejudiced as a result of the conduct of the industry regulators

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CAPE TOWN – JSE-listed AYO Technology Solutions’ key relationships with stakeholders, customers, partners, suppliers have all been prejudiced as a result of the conduct of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and other industry regulators.

A source close to the company said the relentless campaign against the technology company by regulators and others has had an effect on the company’s ability to do business in an unhindered manner.

However, the existing business operations are growing according to plan. The source said the officials on the ground are focussed despite the undue media attention, but new contracts and/or acquisitions have, unfortunately, slowed down.

According to industry experts, when a company goes through such – whether caused by false media reports, allegations made public by a whistleblower or even a company being implicated in a public forum, such as a commission of inquiry – a risk factor is generated and this makes it difficult to attract business.

Dr. Wallace Mgoqi, the AYO chairperson appointed as one of four non-executive directors by the PIC in November 2018, said AYO had had enough of the raft of allegations made against it in the public domain, much of which was hearsay, baseless and without fact.

“The PIC chairperson and officials had in numerous public forums made remarks about AYO based on their own internal processes that have nothing to do with AYO. Key relationships with customers, partners, suppliers and other important stakeholders have all been prejudiced as a result of the propaganda war against AYO in the media,” he said.

Black-owned unlisted investment holding company, Lebashe Investment Group has also been a victim of false media reports and an onslaught of false claims in public forums.

The company’s executives also appeared before the PIC Commission of Inquiry to clear the company’s name after the leader of the United Democratic Movement, General Bantu Holomisa, publicly made unsavory statements about the company based on inaccurate media reports.

In a brief interview on Thursday Lebashe director, Jabu Moleketi said whether allegations were true or not people would subjectively take a negative view, which is something that would be difficult to undo even if the allegations were proven to be false.

“In terms of company operations the company is also then required to disburse energy to other matters related to the cases it has to deal with, thus compromising day-to-day operations,” said Moleketi.

He said legal services were not free and did not come cheap at all, so a company would have its cash flow impacted by the cash expenditure for the legal team. “There’s is also the social impact as well as a personal impact, where the executives that are involved go through emotional and stressful periods which impact their family and social lives.”

Extended litigation has various impacts on a company’s operations.

JSE-listed AYO noted with concern that its reputation and its shareholder value was being harmed as a result of the ongoing deliberate attempts to paint a falsely negative picture of its trading and operational ability and its financial practices.

Manipulation by certain quarters to influence the court of public opinion is highly unethical.

Mgoqi said AYO’s board was an independent board with significant representation of impartial shareholders, including those nominated by the PIC.

The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) said it had never received any irregularity report with regard to the PIC’s investment into AYO.

The FSCA’s divisional executive for licensing and the business center, Felicity Mabaso, said during her submission to the PIC Commission of Inquiry, that the FSCA was informed that there were no mandate breaches “in what is now known as the AYO transaction”.

Mgoqi said the tech firm presented a sound investment case to the PIC and other investors and the company acted with integrity.

The source also said that the company was co-operating fully with the regulators in addressing matters raised out of both the internal review and the external fact-finding report.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE