Carol Paton Writer at Large

The commission of inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which held its first meeting last week, has asked for detailed reports on nine recent investments involving politically connected individuals that the government asset manager made in private companies. Of surprise is the inclusion of the PIC’s R9bn loan in August 2016 to Lancaster 101, which enabled it to acquire a 2.75% black economic empowerment (BEE) stake in Steinhoff International. While the transaction raised eyebrows because of its sheer size and the large holding by former trade unionist Jayendra Naidoo, it was not clear that it would be included. Last week, the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), which is the PIC’s biggest client, disclosed that it had impaired the loan to Lancaster 101 by about R4bn after the collapse in Steinhoff’s share price amid one of the country’s biggest cases of corporate fraud. The GEPF said, however, that the terms and conditions of the loan remained, and Lancaster 101...

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