Sekunjalo Investments

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Sekunjalo Investments
IndustryDiversified investments
GenrePrivate Equity
FoundedMay 1996[1]
FounderIqbal Survé
SubsidiariesAfrican Equity Empowerment Investments
African Equity Empowerment Investments
IndustryDiversified investments
GenrePrivate Equity
FoundedApril 2015
RevenueIncrease R258.8 million (FY 2015)[2]
Increase R45.9 million (FY 2015)[2]
Increase R35.3 million (FY 2015)[2]
Total assetsR1245 million[2]
Number of employees
ParentSekunjalo Investments

Sekunjalo Investment Holdings (parent company of African Equity Empowerment Investments) is a South Africa-based private equity firm specializing in acquisitions, PIPEs, and buyouts. It has principal operations in publishing, Internet, fishing, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, telecommunication, financial services, aquaculture, biotechnology, enterprise development, events management, travel. The company was founded by Iqbal Survé[4] in 1996 with the aim of investing and assisting Black-owned businesses. In April 2015 all of Sekunjalo's investments except its 55% ownership in Independent Media SA was spun-off into a new company, still owned by Sekunjalo Investments, known as African Equity Empowerment Investments.

Business model[edit]

Sekunjalo's Investment model is to seek above average returns in their portfolio and to have scalable social impact especially on the African continent. The Group is committed to the "upliftment of previously marginalised groups by creating employment, emphasising development and transferring of skills."[5]

African Equity Empowerment Investments[edit]

In April 2015, Sekunjalo Investments Limited (SIL) was renamed, African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) to avoid confusion with its mother company, Sekunjalo Holdings. Holdings became a privately held company whilst AEEI took Sekunjalo's publicly traded status on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange trading under the ticker AEE. Sekunjalo Investments kept its 55% stake in Independent News and Media SA but all other investments were spun-off into AEEI so as to "better reflect the underlying businesses and investments of the Group going forward and to differentiate from the private holding company."[6] Founder Iqbal Survé stepped down from managing all investments held by AEEI so as to focus on the company's media holdings.[7]

Media interests[edit]

Sekunjalo Independent Media Consortium is a privately owned and separately controlled segment company that is not directly related to the publicly listed African Equity Empowerment Investments segment of the Sekunjalo Investments parent company. Sekunjalo holds 55% ownership of Cape Town-based Independent News and Media South Africa (INMSA) with the remaining ownership made up of Chinese and Public Investment Corporation of South Africa (a South African government owned company).[8] Two Chinese State Owned Enterprises (China International Television Corporation and the China Africa Development Fund) invested R400 million in the deal to acquire 20% of the Newspaper.[9] The Public Investment Corporation of South Africa invested R500 million to acquire a 25% share. The purchase of the South African-based media group from Independent News and Media was concluded in August 2013 for €150-million (R2 billion). According to the Mail and Guardian Sekunjalo Independent Media's 55% purchase of INMSA was largely funded with a loan from the government owned Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and Government Employees Pension Fund.[10]

By 2018 a large proportion of the PIC's investment in Sekunjalo were written off.[11]


African Equity Empowerment Investments[edit]

List of Health related investments
  • Genius Biotherapeutics (Pty) Ltd: pharmaceutical research and production
  • Ribotech: pharmaceuticals (cancer drugs)
  • Sekpharma: vitamin supplements and other pharmaceutical products
  • Wynberg Pharmaceuticals
List of Technology and Telecoms related investments
  • AYO Technology Solutions
List of Marine related investments
List of Strategic Investments

AEEI has strategic investments in the following companies in South Africa:

List of Service sector related investments

AEEI has strategic investments in the following companies in South Africa:

  • espAfrika: events management
  • Enterprise Development: tourism services

In the news[edit]

Sekunjalo Marine Services Consortium tender[edit]

In December 2011 a Sekunjalo subsidiary, Sekunjalo Marine Services Consortium, was awarded an R800 million (equivalent to roughly US$98 million in 2011)[13] tender for the crewing, management and maintenance of the research and fisheries patrol services.

On 19 February 2012, Mr Pieter van Dalen, the Democratic Alliance member of parliament, lodged a complaint with the Public Protector. To investigate allegation of improper awards of this tender by the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries. That "the company had submitted four separate bids under different company and consortium names, which were all accompanied by Sekunjalo’s 2010 annual report."[14] Additional concerns were raised over possible conflict of interests that neither the company nor the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries adequately addressed over one of its holdings, Premier Fishing, also having a fishing licence at the time when the contract was awarded.[14][15]

On 5 December 2013, the South African Public Protector released its report on accusations that the contract to manage South Africa's fleet of fishing patrol vessels was improperly handled and awarded to Sekunjalo's Marine Service Consortium. The report found that the awarding of the R800 million a year contract was improper and did not comply with the department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries supply-chain management requirements.[16] The Public Protector found that the head of the department's tender evaluation had been "irrational, biased and improper" in its awarding of the bid to Sekunjalo.[17][18]

In the final report, the Public Protector[19] was unable to find any improper maladministration by the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries on the allegation that submitting four tenders under the Sekunjalo Group constitute collusive tendering. Therefore, Sekunjalo was cleared of charges of collusion and corruption, the Public Protector referred the matter to the Competition Commission.[20] The Competition Commission found that there was no collusive bidding by four entities of the Sekunjalo Group when they each put in a bid for an R800 million tender.[21]

The contract was previously held by rival marine services firm Smit Amandla Marine until it expired in 2011 and a new bidding process started. Smit Amand Marine complained that its contract bid application had been leaked to Sekunjalo. The contract was initially awarded to Sekunjalo only to withdraw it and instead gave Smit Amandla one month to hand over their operation to the South African Navy. The department then found that the Navy could not properly maintain the fleet of six patrol vessels and issued an emergency tender to Nautic SA and Damen Shipyards.[16]

Accusations of undue interference at the Cape Times[edit]

Right2Know Campaign and other civil society organisations hold a picket outside Newspaper House to protest against the replacement of Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois. Also present at the demonstration are counter-demonstrators (waving printed red, white, and black placards with most members wearing t-shirts from Tripartite Alliance member organisations) demonstrating in favour of the replacement of Dasnois.

On 5 December 2013 former president and struggle hero of South Africa Nelson Mandela passed away. Most newspapers in South Africa, and major international newspaper titles dedicated their front pages to coverage of Mandela's death. Except for Die Burger and the Sekunjalo owned Cape Times[22] which instead led with a special edition that wrapped around the regular edition covering Mandela's death that was regarded by TIME magazine as one of the best covers from around the world on the event.[23][24][25] On 6 December 2013, the day after Mandela's death and at the same time other publications were covering the event, the Cape Times led with a front-page article on the Public Protector's report highlighting irregularities in the awarding of the Sekunjalo Marine Services Consortium tender. The same day, the newspaper's editor, Alide Dasnois, was dismissed from her post by Iqbal Survé, executive chairman of Sekunjalo Investments.[24][25] One of the stated reasons by Survé for Dasnois's dismissal was that Mandela's death was not on the front page of the Cape Times.[26]

Sekunjalo Investments has threatened to sue the paper, Dasnois, and journalist Melanie Gosling over the tender story, but Survé has denied that Dasnois' removal was connected to the article. He instead pointed to the title's declining circulation figures as his primary motivation.[27] Compounded loss of sales, between 2008 and 2012, amounted to 28%, he said. The Cape Times is one of the titles in the Sekunjalo owned INMSA stable.[28]

In response to a perceived attack on press freedom, several organizations have issued statements of support for Dasnois and of concern over editorial independence at the Cape Times. These include Index on Censorship, the International Federation of Journalists, the SA Centre for PEN International, the SA National Editors Forum, the Freedom of Expression Institute, and the Right2Know campaign.[29][30][31][32][33]

In September 2014 Dasnois filed papers in the South African Labour Court for unfair dismissal and for breach of contract.[34] In May 2016 Sekunjalo reached an agreement with Dasnois to settle out of court and issued a statement that acknowledged that Dasnois did not show disrespect to Mandela's legacy and neither was her conduct in any way motivated by racism. Shortly after releasing this statement the Sekunjalo owned Cape Times newspaper ran a story that Dasnois's lawyer claims sought to accuse Dasnois of being disrespectful to Mandela.[35]

Accusations of pro-ANC bias[edit]

In January 2015 the company and its director Iqbal Survé were accused of pro-African National Congress (ANC) political bias in how they operated Independent News and Media SA and its subsidiary newspapers such as the Cape Times. Although there had been lingering concerns over press freedom at Independent Media following Skunjalo's acquisition of the company partly due to the 2014 firing of Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois and partly due to Survé's close relationship with the ANC the catalyst for the accusation was "group Executive Editor Karima Brown and Editor of Opinion and Analysis Vukani Mde's decision to wear ANC colours at an ANC rally."[36] The accusations were first made by former Independent News columnist Max du Preez in his open resignation letter as reasons for his refusal to work for the company any longer.[37]

Karima Brown, the Chief Content Officer of Independent Media replied to Du Preez's resignation letter by rejecting accusations of political bias, as their publications still feature a number of articles critical of the ANC government, claimed that Du Preez had inaccurately accused Schabir Shaik and President Jacob Zuma of pursuing a corrupt relationship, and that Du Preez and those who have supported him were motivated by racism.[38][39]

Opposition leader Helen Zille stated that Skunjalo's operation of Independent media was an example of state capture that threatens both the independence of the media and the development of democracy in South Africa.[40]

The company was again criticised for its close links with the ANC and of allegedly having an anti-Democratic Alliance (DA) bias in a report on Al-Jazeera in March 2016.[41] The DA for its part was accused of trying to silence criticism from the Cape Times by threatening to cancel the City of Cape Town's subscription to that publication. In the same report the Cape Times rejected any accusation that it or any Sekunjalo owned publication was reporting unfairly towards any opposition political party.[41]

In 2012, prior to the purchase of Independent Media South Africa, Sekunjalo entered into an agreement with the Gupta family (a family best known for their relationship with ANC president Jacob Zuma) owned Oakbay Investments to purchase 50% of the newspaper company after Sekunjalo had completed the purchase from the company's original owner. This agreement fell through and led to a court case being brought against Sekunjalo by Oakbay.[42]

Chinese censorship[edit]

Former Independent Media columnist Azad Essa said that the newspaper cancelled his column immediately after he published a column distributed to a number of Independent Media newspapers critical of China's mass internment of ethnic Uighurs.[43] Essa was also informed that the article he wrote would not be published online. Essa went on to accuse the newspaper group owned by both Sekunjalo and Chinese interests of espousing "sycophantic praise for Chinese investment, lacks critical engagement with the much-ballyhooed BRICS... and fails to ask basic questions on Chinese motives in Africa."[44]

Public Investment Corporation investment[edit]

During the 2019 Public Investment Corporation (PIC) Commission of Inquiry, testimony was given accusing PIC executives bypassed normal processes to invest R4.3 billion of public money into Sekunjalo Investments subsidiary company AYO Technology Solutions.[45] The Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC) instructed the PIC to recoup to recoup the R4.3 billion investment it made into AYO Technology Solutions in 2017 by issuing a Compliance Notice against the board of directors of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).[46] The notice was declared unlawful by Judge Cornelius van der Westhuizen at the North Gauteng High Court as the PIC was not given a hearing before the issuance of the Compliance Notice.[47]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sekunjalo Investments Ltd". Business Week. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d "AEEI: UNAUDITED INTERIM RESULTS 2015" (PDF). African Equity Empowerment Investments. 28 February 2015. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  3. ^ "AFRICAN EQUITY EMPOWERMENT INVESTMENTS (AEEI), formerly SEKUNJALO Investments Limited". AEEI. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Company website". Sekunjalo Investments. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Company website: Investment Philosophy". Sekunjalo Investments. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  6. ^ Smith, Carin (16 April 2015). "Sekunjalo rebrands to avoid confusion". News 24. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  7. ^ Hasenfuss, Marc (30 April 2015). "AFRICAN EQUITY EMPOWERMENT INVESTMENTS: After the surge". Financial Mail. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  8. ^ a b Mckune, Craig (15 August 2013). "Chinese companies scoop shares in Independent News". Mail and Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  9. ^ Sam Sole & Craig Mckune (28 August 2014). "What's black and white and in the red all over?". Mail and Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  10. ^ Myburgh, James (11 January 2015). "How independent is Independent News & Media? Not very ..." Rand Daily Mail. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  11. ^ Vos, Dirk De. "GEPF's R1bn Independent write-off, part of a bigger,..." Daily Maverick. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  12. ^ "About IOL". Independent Online. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  13. ^ "US Dollars (USD) to South African Rands (ZAR) exchange rate for December 30, 2011". Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  14. ^ a b "Sekunjalo fishes for tender". Benjamin, Chantelle. Corruption Watch. 15 March 2012. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  15. ^ du Toit, Deetlefs (4 December 2011). "Why did Sekunjalo receiving R1bn fishing patrol tender? - DA". Democratic Alliance. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  16. ^ a b "Madonsela recommends disciplinary action against Joemat-Pettersson". Business Day. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  17. ^ "Public Protector lays down law". Cape Times. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  18. ^ Blaine, Sue & Vecchiatto, Paul (6 December 2013). "Sekunjalo off the hook over collusive tendering". Business Day. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  19. ^ "Report on an investigation into allegations of improper and irregular awarding tender to Sekunjalo Marine Services Consortium (SMSC) by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries". Politics web. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  20. ^ "Business Report". Independent Media. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  21. ^ "Politics web". Politics web. 14 September 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  22. ^ Herbst, Ed (30 September 2015). "The Cape Times: From hero to zero". Politics Web. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  23. ^ "The Best Nelson Mandela Covers From Around The World". TIME magazine. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  24. ^ a b "Cape Times editor fired after Joemat-Pettersson report". Mail and Guardian. 8 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  25. ^ a b Vecchiatto, Paul (9 December 2013). "Firing of Cape Times' editor raises eyebrows". Business Day. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  26. ^ "Dasnois papers: Survé made rants and threats". News24. 28 January 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  27. ^ Surve, Iqbal (9 December 2013). "Statement by executive Director Dr Iqbal Surve". Independent Media SA. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  28. ^ SAPA (21 August 2013). "Sekunjalo finalises Independent Media purchase". Mail and Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  29. ^ van der Westhuizen, Christi (13 December 2013). "South Africa: Cape Times in crisis as editor fired after corruption story". Index on Censorship. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  30. ^ "Demonstration in South Africa calls for reinstatement of Cape Times editor". ifex. 17 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  31. ^ "SA Pen concerned by Cape Times editor's dismissal". The Sowetan. 17 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  32. ^ Adriaan Basson; et al. (9 December 2013). "SANEF shocked and concerned at axing of Alide Dasnois". South African National Editors Forum. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  33. ^ "FXI is deeply concerned about suggestions of inappropriate managerial interference in the editorial independence of the Cape Time". 10 December 2013. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  34. ^ SAPA (27 September 2014). "Ex-Cape Times editor files papers in court". News24. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  35. ^ "Cape Times Settlement: Dasnois takes paper to Press Ombud after legal breach | Daily Maverick". Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  36. ^ Phumzile Van Damme (20 January 2015). "Karima Brown & Vukani Mde's ANC colours: Press Ombudsman should adjudicate - DA". Democratic Alliance. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  37. ^ Max du Preez (15 January 2015). "A letter to Karima Brown". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  38. ^ Karima Brown (16 January 2015). "Du Preez using column to score cheap points". Independent Media. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  39. ^ "Independent Media: The Iqbal-ites strike back". Politicsweb. 18 January 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  40. ^ Helen Zille (18 January 2015). "An open letter to Iqbal Survé - Helen Zille". Democratic Alliance. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  41. ^ a b Jacob Zuma's friends and foes in South Africa's media - The Listening Post (Feature) (Video). 5:27: Al Jazeera: English. 20 March 2016.CS1 maint: location (link)
  42. ^ "Fear and loathing: First look at Guptas' attempt to bite a chunk of Iqbal Survé's stake in Independent Media | Daily Maverick". Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  43. ^ Lim, Louisa; Bergin, Julia (7 December 2018). "Inside China's audacious global propaganda campaign". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  44. ^ Essa, Azad (14 September 2018). "China Is Buying African Media's Silence". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  45. ^ Nicolson, Greg (14 February 2019). "Inquiry witnesses receive death threats". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  46. ^ Khumalo, Sibongile (26 February 2019). "PIC given 15 business days to recoup AYO billions". Fin24.
  47. ^ Niselow, Tehilla (26 March 2019). "Watchdog's order for PIC to recoup R4.3bn from AYO declared unlawful, set aside". Fin24. Retrieved 18 August 2020.

External links[edit]