PIC Inquiry – I was accused of blocking foreign direct investment into SA, Matjila says

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PRETORIA, July 9 – Dr Daniel Matjila told the PIC Inquiry on Tuesday that he was accused of blocking foreign direct investment into the country after he refused to support the Chilean drug-maker CFR Pharmaceuticals’s bid to acquire Adcock Ingram in 2014.

CFR Pharmaceuticals in 2014 abandoned its R12.8 billion cash-and-share offer for Adcock Ingram after a lengthy and acrimonious attempt to take over the South African pharmaceutical group.

CFR’s bid was thwarted by opposition from the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and by a rival bid by South African conglomerate Bidvest.

The PIC, the state-owned entity with about R2 trillion of assets under management, was at that time Adcock’s largest shareholder.

Testifying at the PIC inquiry headed by Judge Lex Mpati, Matjila said the PIC would have lost a large number of shares in Adcock and for that reason it did not make financial sense.

Matjila said that the CFR-Adcock bid was one of the issues that caused governance challenges at the PIC as it resulted in tensions between him and the finance minister [at the time Pravin Gordhan] as he felt that government was overstepping.

“The refusal of the PIC to support the Chilean drug maker CFR Pharmaceuticals from acquiring Adcock Ingram around the fourth quarter was another issue that caused tension between me and the Ministry of Finance. I was accused of blocking foreign direct investments into the country,” Matjila said.

“However, as the CIO at the time, I felt strongly that the shareholder needed to be advised not to exert direct influence on how the PIC conducted its investment activities as it was highly regulated.”

Matjila said that the issues raised by the CFR bid prompted Gordhan to conduct a governance review of the PIC, led by non-executive directors.

But Matjila said that the terms of reference of that review were not shared with anyone and he was just lucky that “someone decided to show him” the terms of reference.

“The terms of reference and appointment of a service provider were done outside of the PIC’s approval processes and procurement practices. There was a clear meddling by non-executive directors in the day-to-day running of the PIC as demonstrated in Mr Vuyo Jack’s statement to the Commission,” Matjila said.

“Once I had the opportunity to see the terms of reference of this governance review, it became clear that it was targeted towards me. The issues that were going to be tested and the people who were going to be interviewed made it clear to me that this was more [of] a personal vendetta than just a governance review.

“And I had a strong belief that if there was a governance review, it would have involved executive directors to assist in driving this process if it was done transparently we would have been the ones involved with the leadership of the CEO to assist the board, but it was kept secret.”

Earlier in the day, Matjila refuted as untrue allegations that he had received a R2.5 million loan from the now liquidated VBS Mutual Bank, also saying that a lifestyle audit by PwC did not find any evidence to support claims that he received this loan.

This is after United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa on Monday said a whistle-blower provided him with a report by Nexus Forensic Services, commissioned by the PIC board, allegedly showing that Matjila never declared a VBS Mutual Bank loan to the value of R2,456,761.66 allegedly extended to him.

– African News Agency (ANA)