Dr Iqbal Surve’, newly appointed chairman of the BRICS Business Council in South Africa

PRESS RELEASE
The SA BRICS Business Council arrived in New Delhi yesterday to attend the mid-term meeting of BRICS with their international counterparts.

BRICS is an association of five emerging economies; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.  

Half of the world’s population, almost four billion people live in the five countries. Collectively. BRICS has a GDP of about $37 trillion.

Newly-appointed Chairman of the South African chapter of the BRICS Business Council, Dr Iqbal Surve’ says the mid-term meeting is an important event in the run-up to the BRICS Summit that will be  hosted by China, in the city of Xiamen in September. The summit will be hosted in SAS next year.

Dr Surve, the executive chairman of Sekunjalo, says that he intends to strengthen the multilateral relationships of SA business community with the BRICS countries to the mutual benefit for each country.

The BRICS Business Council ensures on-going interaction between the business communities and  governments of countries in BRICS,  identifying  problems,  bottlenecks  and solutions to facilitate trade and foster investment relationships.

BRICS Business Council members are appointed by the SA government. Commenting on his appointment as Chairman, Dr Surve said ‘that the BRICS Business Council members are first and foremost ambassadors for the country.  “We are there to ensure that all South Africans benefit as the global economy moves rapidly towards the east and south,” he said.

In the age of Trump protectionism and Brexit we have to strengthen our ties with business in the East especially China and India whose economies are expected to be number one and number three in the world by 2030, with a GDP of $35 trillion and $16 trillion respectively.

Dr Surve′ is a founding member of the BRICS Business Council and says that he will build on the work done by his predecessors, Patrice Motsepe and most recently,  Brian Molefe.

The SA BRICS Business Council members accompanying Dr Surve include Siyabonga Gama (Transnet CEO) , Danisa Baloyi ( Black Business Council President) who are new appointments and , Khanyisile Kweyama ( Business Unity South Africa)  and Stavros Nicolaou (Aspen Pharmacare ) retain their positions  as members of the Council. The Business Council will work closely with ministers in various clusters and business sectors including Finance, DTI, DIRCO, Science and Technology, Education.

Dr Surve′ said: “It is indeed an honour to lead the  South African BRICS Business Council and to represent my country and in addition, I will work with some of the best business leaders in the country and in the various BRICS business councils. It is also an opportunity to enable our country to achieve the goals of inclusive growth and economic transformation.

I am passionate about job creation, education, skills development  and technology and I hope that in this new role I will be able to ensure that BRICS  benefits the most marginalised South Africans and Africans,” Dr Surve’ said.  

The upcoming BRICS Business Council mid-term meeting will be taking stock of progress in deregulation, manufacturing, infrastructure, agri-business, skills development, financial services and energy and the green economy, and prepare for the September summit.

The meeting will end with a seminar on financing sustainable development.  

Dr Surve′ said the Business Council has a huge role to play in economic development on all fronts.

“It is an interesting development that China is flying the flag for globalisation at a time when the United States President Donald Trump is taking a more protectionist stance.This opens up many opportunities, not only for South Africa, but for the continent.

“As South Africans we have to make sure that we remain relevant in the global economic order and that we have access to the global market, and access to capital,” he said.

He added that what is of utmost importance is to ensure that Africans benefit from the New Development Bank (NDB). The bank was established by BRICS to support public or private projects, by supplying loans, guarantees and equity participation.

“The bank must not just benefit countries in Asia, we want them to build dams, roads, power stations and railway lines in Africa,” Dr Surve′ said.

BRICS brings many opportunities to South Africa, as the country needs more foreign direct investment.

“South Africa spends more than 40 percent ( R153 billion) of the budget servicing debt and if we don’t have foreign direct investment it will lead to greater unemployment and social instability. That is why the Business Council is crucial. It is there to ensure as a country, we can channel FDI from the rest of the world, but mostly from Brazil, Russian, India and China,” said Dr Surve′.

“It is noteworthy that all five countries have different ideals, economic policies and politics, yet we know for economic growth we have to work together, to ensure our people benefit economically. Included in the benefits must be skilling and reskilling, in preparation for the fourth industrial revolution, where biological, physical and digital worlds meld”.

Dr Surve′ said that BRICS must represent a win-win for all its members.

Sekunjalo sues TMG for defamation

PRESS RELEASE

Sekunjalo sues TMG for defamation

Sekunjalo Investment Group, which owns Independent Media, today announced that they have instructed their attorneys Webber Wentzel   to institute legal proceedings against Times Media Group (TMG) following its publication of  a defamatory article,  “Breaking the News”, authored by Ann Crotty. Sekunjalo will shortly announce similar instructions against other media outlets that have republished the offending article.

Sekunjalo Group applauds the decision announced last week by Independent Media and the African News Agency (ANA) who announced that they will sue TMG for R200m and R500m respectively.  Sekunjalo’s damages claim will be for R500m and this brings the total damages claim against TMG to R1,2 billion.

Sekunjalo Group portfolio comprises investments in more than 200 companies across the African continent, Switzerland, USA and China, including shareholdings and partnerships with 9 multinational companies operating in Africa. The group has significant investments in South Africa with major listed and private companies, all of whom directly and indirectly employ in excess of 115 000 people.

“The Sekunjalo Group considers the Crotty article an insult made with a colonial and apartheid era mentality. The suggestion that Independent Media which constitutes less than 2% of Sekunjalo’s investment portfolio, is being asset-stripped is both laughable and bizarre. It speaks to the moral bankruptcy of the individuals who write such slander.

These same individuals either remain silent or they applaud Independent’s competitors when they restructure their businesses for whatever reasons, but when a black controlled company like Sekunjalo does it they call it “asset-stripping”.

Sekunjalo has in its 20 year history won many awards and has been a stellar example of good corporate governance and sound business practices and values. We take the highly defamatory accusation of asset-stripping very seriously. It is an insult to our ethical business practices and our adherence to good corporate governance which are integral to all our businesses – both in South Africa and globally,” said Executive Chairman of Sekunjalo investment Group, Dr Iqbal Survé.

Far from asset-stripping, Dr Survé said that since acquiring Independent Media, Sekunjalo has invested in excess of R200m in the business to assist the company’s evolution from essentially a print media to a multi-platform media company.  Backed by Independent Media’s board of directors and shareholders, Sekunjalo’s investments were directed at funding, amongst others, new technology, IT infrastructure and the up-skilling and training of journalists. The move was in line with the company’s strategy to transition to a digitally-driven company while optimizing efficiencies throughout the organization. Sekunjalo intends to invest a further R500 million in the next 3 years. Dr Survé is confident of an award of significant damages for the defamatory statements made by Ann Crotty, which he said  “is fitting for a novel of fiction”. He would like to see such award being used for the further education and training of journalists.

Dr Survé added that since the acquisition of Independent Media in 2013, there has been a deliberate campaign of bullying, lies, distortion and disinformation against himself, Independent Media and Sekunjalo.  This seems to have the hallmarks of a sinister and deliberate strategy by our competitors and detractors. The racism is evident in this campaign.

“Clearly this campaign is designed to undermine our investment, our business credibility and our transformation agenda, but it also highlights the lengths to which our competitors will go to hold on to the traditionally white-dominated media which benefitted royally from apartheid,” he said.

“It is normal practice for any dynamic company to constantly review its business strategy and add value for its shareholders.  All companies and especially media companies the world over do this especially in today’s rapidly changing media environment. We have witnessed our competitors restructure their businesses without any comment from our detractors. This whole situation is vindictive and defamatory and we have to draw the line,” said Dr Survé.

Sekunjalo further believes that the legal action that it will institute against TMG as well as the pending legal action against other individuals and media outlets  is a sign of its support for small black owned publishers who have been trampled on by the big media conglomerates and who remain prejudiced by the monopolization of media in SA.

“We will not be intimidated and therefore we have no hesitation in holding them to account as companies, groups and in their personal capacities in our courts and in the courts abroad.   This fight is not only our fight; it is a fight on behalf of small, black owned publishers who have been bullied by the media monopolies and there surrogates,” said Dr Survé.

Most importantly this fight is about the control and transformation of the media and ultimately about the economy of this country. The time is now” said Dr Survé.

ENDS

Independent Media to sue Times Media Group for R300 million

PRESS RELEASE

Independent Media has instructed its legal team to institute proceedings against Times Media Group (TMG) following their refusal to retract a defamatory article, written by Ann Crotty, which was published in Financial Mail and Business Live on 23 February 2017.

Several untrue and defamatory statements were contained in the article, “Breaking the News, including allegations, innuendo and questions regarding Independent Media’s current financial standing and its ability to repay loans.

A significant portion of the article claims that Independent Media entered into deals with and sold profitable assets to an entity called Africa Media Group to the disadvantage and detriment of its shareholders.  Independent Media has no knowledge of the existence of this entity.

It is clear that the intention of the article was to spread fake news about Independent Media, portray a picture of underhandedness and to create suspicion and discomfort amongst shareholders, readers and advertisers.  The article also suggests that Independent Media has diminished in stature and would enter into deals without there being a sound business rationale.

Independent Media has questioned the integrity and journalistic ethics of the writer and the motive of those publishing entities of Times Media Group which published the article.

Since the acquisition of Independent Media in 2013, Sekunjalo Group has invested in excess of R200m in technological and digital advancements as well as skills training and development for journalists as part of its strategy to migrate the Independent Media brand from a largely print media to a multi-platform media group. This investment came with the full approval and support of the existing shareholders who will benefit from the increased value created as a result of Sekunjalo’s additional financial injection into Independent Media since the acquisition.

Commenting on the matter, Chief of Staff of Independent Media, Zenariah Barends said: “I have been at Independent since February 2014.  Prior to me joining the company and since, there has been a barrage of attacks against us, including personal attacks on Dr Survé, by the same groups and individuals. I have to wonder at the reasons for the consistent negative reporting about our company these past three years. It is certainly not normal. I would like to put it down to a case of sour grapes, as a number of our detractors were former employees at Independent Media.  But the frequency and volume of negativity and malice, suggests something more sinister.”

She added that the company will be instituting the necessary steps to sue the parties mentioned.  “We want to get on with our business and build a media house where South Africans who are interested in developing our democracy know they have a trusted source of information.”

ENDS