Africa's biggest fund manager suspends key officials

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JOHANNESBURG (Jan 23): South Africa’s Public Investment Corp, the continent’s biggest money manager, said it has suspended two employees after an investigation into a transaction with Ayo Technology Solutions Ltd.

The PIC suspended Fidelis Madavo, the head of listed investments, and Victor Seanie, an assistant portfolio manager, the Pretoria-based fund manager said in a statement. Madavo gave evidence Tuesday before a commission that’s probing allegations of impropriety at the institution, saying there was no impropriety related to Ayo.

“The preliminary report clearly reflects a blatant flouting of governance and approval processes of the PIC,” the money manager said about the Ayo investment in the statement. “Employees of the PIC have also been implicated in these irregularities. It is for this reason that the board has resolved to suspend” Madavo and Seanie immediately, it said.

Last year, the PIC spent 4.3 billion rand (US$309 million) to back Ayo’s initial public offering, valuing Ayo at 14.8 billion rand, even though its assets were estimated at 292 million rand.

The Government Employees Pension Fund, which is the continent’s largest such fund and is the PIC’s biggest client, is “extremely perturbed” by the suspensions and wants the PIC’s board to finalize its probe into the Ayo transaction, it said in a statement on its website.

“The PIC had assured the GEPF on numerous occasions and in correspondence that correct governance processes were followed with respect to the Ayo Technology Solutions transaction,” the fund said. “The GEPF views this as a serious breach of trust.”