#PICInquiry: Dan Matjila hits out at R4.3bn recoup plan

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Former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) chief executive Dan Matjila yesterday hit out at the asset manager’s attempts to recoup the R4.3 billion it invested in the listing of AYO Technology Solutions in 2017.

Matjila told Judge Lex Mpati’s commission into allegations of wrongdoing at the PIC that the lender had not lost any money until he left last year.

“I think it is a suboptimal approach. I mean unless the law has been broken somewhere and the JSE has not done its work in approving the PLS (pre-listing statement), the basis of which an investment was made,” Matjila said.

“I am sure they (JSE) are doing their own investigations around the PLS, because we were fed with a PLS and used that as a basis to invest, so if there are issues around the PLS there has to be a way of unwinding that position, especially now that the cash has not been spent, as far as I could read the numbers.”

In March, a court ruling set aside a controversial compliance notice against the PIC by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission to recover R4.3bn from AYO. The PIC has since served AYO with a summons demanding it pay back the R4.3bn it invested due to misrepresentation.

The PIC participated in the private placement of AYO shares in December of 2017 and took 28.9 percent interest in AYO for R4.29bn. AYO in turn announced its intention to sue the PIC and other entities for damages.

Matjila was once again asked why the PIC under his watch felt the investment was a strategic one rather than a normal initial public offering.

Matjila said he believed the investment was strategic, because of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the role information communication technology has to play despite the plunge in AYO shares.

“If you know that every time you study the balance sheet of the company you see the cash is deployed in the manner that it is supposed to be deployed then you’re comfortable, because the share price then doesn’t tell much.”

Since listing, AYO completed the acquisition of a 55 percent shareholding in Zaloserve for a consideration of R165 million after obtaining approval from the Competition Commission.

In February, AYO concluded the acquisition of a 40 percent equity interest in Saab Grintek Technologies Proprietary Limited, now known as SGT Solutions Proprietary Limited.

Matjila said that the AYO deal was used as part of an “onslaught” to get rid of him at the PIC.

“The AYO transaction became a good one in the strategy to engineer my downfall. When I was accused of funding an alleged girlfriend to the tune of R21 million it didn’t work. Then they came up with a lot of spurious accusations to ensure they are there for a long time,” he said.

This story first appeared in the Business Report Online