Trouble at Africa’s Biggest Fund

The Public Investment Corp. is the behemoth of Africa’s fund managers, overseeing $150 billion in pension assets for more than 1 million South African state workers. While the PIC, as it’s widely known, was long heralded for delivering market-beating returns, its reputation has been scarred by accusations that it made questionable investment decisions and didn’t follow proper procedures. An official inquiry into how the fund manager is run has starkly highlighted its management shortcomings. Witnesses have told the commission how processes were routinely flouted, polices were breached and questionable investments were made by senior managers. They included the purchase of bonds issued by cash-strapped state power producer Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. and a stake in Ayo Technology Solutions Ltd. that valued the little-known technology company at 50 times what its assets were estimated to be worth. There’s been no conclusive evidence that PIC officials directly benefited from their actions, although several of them were alleged to have been closely linked to executives at companies in which the PIC bought stakes.SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

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