Sun, 15 Dec 2019

The Public Investment Corporation has lodged an application to liquidate Sekunjalo Independent Media (SIM), a special purpose holding company set up in 2013 to buy out Independent Media SA from its Irish owners.

SIM owns 55% of Independent Media*, the publisher of titles such the The Star, the Cape Times and the Weekend Argus.

On Tuesday SIM spokesperson Takudzwa Hove, in a statement, said the group had received an application to liquidate the company from the PIC. He described the application as one in a series of "co-ordinated attacks on Independent Media, and ultimately, an attack on media freedom".

Sekunjalo Independent Media is a separate entity from Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, the investment holding company of Cape Town businessman Iqbal Surve. SIM falls under Sekunjalo, and Surve is the chair of Independent Media.

"SIM is of the firm belief this action is designed as a further attempt to embarrass and undermine the Sekunjalo Group and Dr Surve personally and is aimed at provoking a run on SIM's major subsidiary, Independent Media, which is fully operational," SIM said on Tuesday.

Fin24 has not yet seen a copy of the application. The PIC said it would respond to Fin24's queries. This article will be updated as soon as new information becomes available.

'Frivolous'

"SIM has instructed its attorneys to oppose this frivolous application and seek the appropriate relief against those involved, which will include seeking a special costs order against the PIC and holding those responsible personally liable," SIM said.

The PIC, briefing Parliament in mid-October, said it would consider submitting an application for the liquidation of Sekunjalo - it not at the time make the distinction between Sekunjalo and Sekunjalo Independent Media - due to the non-payment of interest on debt. This lead to a war of words between the asset manager and Surve.

The asset manager also previously accused Surve making "misplaced, opportunistic, flawed and deceitful" arguments after he claimed there were links between the PIC's remarks before Parliament and a regulatory raid carried out at his Cape Town offices last week in a market abuse inquiry.

Late last week Sekunjalo applied to have a court set aside the warrant that authorised the search and seazure raid. The FSCA, who carried out the raid, said it would be opposing the application.

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