Carol Paton Writer at Large
PIC chief investment officer Daniel Matjila. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
PIC chief investment officer Daniel Matjila. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

Dan Matjila, the CEO of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), has given the board of Africa’s largest asset manager until Friday to accept his terms for voluntarily leaving at the end of April.

The PIC, which oversees more than R2-trillion, is also the single biggest shareholder on the JSE and the largest investor in government bonds. Its biggest client is the Government Employees Pension Fund.

The PIC could face legal action from Matjila if it fails to reach an agreement with him, as the CEO claims that his relationship with the board has broken down and that he has been constructively dismissed.

Matjila’s conduct at the helm of the PIC is set to come under scrutiny when a presidential commission of inquiry, established in October, begins sitting.

The commission is expected to complete its work by the end of March. 

Controversially, he has not been suspended by the board, which has consistently backed him, while the commission does its work.

The CEO argues that the various investigations to which he has been subjected amount to a witchhunt.

In recent months he also faced a forensic inquiry commissioned by the board and led by advocate Geoff Budlender.

Matjila is also believed to have insisted that part of the terms of his departure see him being actively involved in introducing his successor to the job.

He gave the board 14 days to respond to his offer, and that is due to run out on Friday, when a scheduled board meeting is to be held.

Jabulani Sikhakhane, spokesperson for finance minister Tito Mboweni, confirmed that the minister had received the letter. However, as it is the board which appoints the CEO "with the approval of the minister," so the matter was now being dealt with at that level.

The board would then seek the minister’s approval, he said.

Matjila declined to comment, but PIC spokesperson Sekgoela Sekgoela said in response to questions: "Employment matters are confidential between employer and employee.

"The CEO will not be discussing these in public, except to emphasise that he remains employed by the PIC and that his five year contract ends in 2019."

Given the PIC’s influence as an investor and funder of empowerment transactions, through its private equity portfolio, it and whoever leads it are frequently subjected to fierce lobbying by politically-connected business people.

Matjila has been associated with several questionable deals involving people of influence or their relatives.

The commission is to probe several such transactions, with the terms of reference specifying that it must examine "alleged impropriety regarding investment decisions by the PIC in media reports in 2017 and 2018".

Transactions that would fall into this ambit include the private placement of R4.3bn in the initial public offering of Iqbal Surve’s Ayo Technologies in December 2017 at a price that was regarded by the market as grossly overvalued; the PIC’s subsequent enthusiasm to invest in Surve’s Sagarmantha, which did not go ahead; and its investment in an oil refinery in Mozambique in which the son of former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was involved.

Among the commission’s terms of reference is an instruction to probe whether the PIC has adequate measures to ensure that investments do not unduly "favour or discriminate against" influential people, their immediate family members or known associates.

Matjila has also been accused of being inappropriately and actively engaged in steps to remove staff members whom he believed had conspired against him.