Carol Paton Writer at Large
Dan Matjila. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Dan Matjila. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The Public Investment Corporation's (PIC's) CEO Dan Matjila is to leave Africa’s largest asset manager with immediate effect.

Matjila had offered to resign in a letter to the board on terms that would see him stay in the position until April next year.

“The PIC Board deliberated on the letter from the CEO, Dr Daniel Matjila expressing his intention to resign. The board resolved that in the interest of the PIC and the CEO, we accept his resignation with immediate effect,” the PIC said in a statement late on Friday.

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.

On Friday, the board said Matjila “has over the years in various capacities, served the PIC with dignity and distinction. He has played an integral role in fulfilling the PIC’s vision of meeting and exceeding our clients’ mandates. Under his leadership, the PIC has grown from strength to strength and has attracted dedicated and competent employees of world class calibre”.

Matjila’s conduct at the helm of the PIC is set to come under scrutiny when a presidential commission of inquiry, established in October, is to begin sitting. The commission is expected to complete its work by the end of March.

In an internal staff letter seen by Business Day, PIC chairperson Mondli Gungubele said executive director and CFO Matshepo More would be the acting CEO.

Matjila has argued that the various investigations to which he had 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 believed to have insisted in his letter that part of the terms of his departure would see him being actively involved in introducing his successor to the job. He had given the board 14 days to respond to his offer, which ran out on Friday, when a scheduled board meeting was held.

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 was 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 will fall into this ambit include the private placement of R4.3bn in the initial public offering of Iqbal Survé’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 Survé’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 had adequate measures to ensure that investments did 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.