Former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) chief executive Dan Matjila has sought to shoot down allegations that he spearheaded a merger between investment firm Kilimanjaro Capital (KiliCap) and industrial conglomerate Sakhumnotho in order for the consortium to receive R1.8-billion for a 91% stake in Tosaco Energy (Total SA).
In March, Sakhumnotho chairman Sipho Mseleku told the commission looking into alleged impropriety at the PIC that Matjila imposed a merger between his company and KiliCap in 2015 when both companies were bidding for investment from the PIC for the deal.
The consortium received R1.8-billion for the deal from the state asset manager which manages R2.2-trillion in investments on behalf of public servants.
Mseleku described how he was introduced to KiliCap director, Lawrence Mulaudzi by Matjila when he was attending a meeting with the former asset manager CEO at the PIC headquarters. He said he followed Matjila to another room in the building where Mulaudzi was present.
During his fourth day of testimony before the Mpati commission on Thursday, Matjila confirmed the meeting that he had arranged with both Mseleku and Mulaudzi on July 30 2016. However, he denied that he orchestrated the meeting in the PIC offices between the two parties in order for them to discuss the possible merger.
“Although Mr Mulaudzi has testified that he was forced to merge KiliCap with Sakhumnotho I deny this assertion. Without the merger both companies stood a real risk of losing the bid as they were both small,” he said.
Assistant commissioner, Gill Marcus asked Matjila whether it was appropriate to seemingly organise a “shotgun wedding” between the two parties. The former CEO once again denied that he organised the meeting, saying that he rather wanted transparency in the bidding process of the deal.
“I didn’t want to create the impression that I am being indifferent and I had to tell them both that we are unable to issue them with a bidding letter of expression of interest,” he responded.
Seemingly unconvinced by Matjila’s response, Marcus questioned whether or not he found it strange that Mseleku followed him from the boardroom to another room in the building when their meeting had concluded.
“What is important here is what has happened and what would be preferable to the PIC. Is it a combined entity or two entities fighting for the same thing and losing because at that point they were the two serious companies that were fighting for funding for the PIC,” Matjila testified.
“Lack of communication and working in silos resulted in the three competing consortiums all having been promised support by the PIC including a non-binding letter of support,” he added.
During his appearance at the commission — chaired by retired judge Lex Mpati — Matjila also sought to wash his hands of allegations of interference in the investment decisions of the PIC.
“Contrary to the erroneous claims made in certain media reports, no single person within the PIC and especially not me can possibly make an investment decision on his or her own,” he said.
The inquiry continues.