Iqbal Survé's ritzy Silo apartment buying spree

No money to honour pension fund debt - but there's R140m for luxury apartments

17 February 2019 - 00:03 By BOBBY JORDAN

Iqbal Survé splurged almost R140m on seven luxury V&A Waterfront apartments in Cape Town in an 11-month spree just before it emerged that one of his companies defaulted on repayments to the Public Investment Corp (PIC).
Deeds office records link Survé to seven apartments in the V&A's No 3 Silo, all bought between October 2017 and August 2018.
No 3 Silo, in the same glitzy precinct as the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, offers "spectacular view lines across the city and Table Mountain", according to its website. Features include a rooftop pool deck, 24-hour concierge and lift access to basement parking.
One of Survé's apartments - a R40m penthouse - is registered in the name of the Iqbal Survé Family Trust. Another, costing R23m, is in the name of Survé's 25-year-old daughter, Saarah. The remaining five are in the name of a company, Pro Direct Investments 112, of which Survé and his two sisters are the only directors.
The collective purchase price of the properties, some of which are bonded, was R139.5m, according to deeds office records.
Survé told the Sunday Times this week: "Where I live, or do not live, is no matter for public scrutiny and I would ask you and the Sunday Times to respect my privacy and my safety at this time. As, too, the matter of how I choose to invest finances.
"However, for the record, both in my personal capacity and through my investment company, there is an extensive and diversified investment portfolio, which includes property - this is nothing unusual for successful business persons the world over."
The first sale at No 3 Silo, in October 2017 - Saarah Survé's ninth-floor apartment - was registered in February 2018, two months after a R4.3bn injection into one of Survé's Sekunjalo Group companies, AYO Technology Services, from the PIC. The Sunday Times has not established any link between the AYO funding and the property purchases.
An affidavit submitted last month to the Mpati commission of inquiry into allegations of impropriety at the PIC said the AYO share subscription was finalised on December 14 2017 - without approval from the PIC portfolio management committee.
Survé's big purchases also coincided with the flagging fortunes of another Sekunjalo Group company, Independent News & Media SA, which had R1bn in Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) loans and investments written off late last year.
Saarah works for her father in his media empire, describing herself on Twitter as editor-in-chief of Fast Company SA and editor of African Independent magazine.
Survé said his "brave decision" in 2013 to buy Independent was "at the behest" of Saarah, who studied at the universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch.
Saarah's career in journalism began in January 2017, when she joined one of Survé's newspapers as an editorial intern.
"I had no idea what to expect on my first day at the Cape Argus, but was pleasantly surprised when I was tasked with covering the Tweede Nuwe Jaar minstrel march," she wrote at the time.
She is now a senior executive in a company where "cost-containment strategies are being implemented and the investment continues to be closely monitored", according to the GEPF annual report tabled in parliament in November last year.
Survé is the executive chair of the Sekunjalo Group, which is headquartered a short walk from his home, in the "Survé Family Office" on the second floor of No 5 Silo.
The company website claims the group espouses "a gentler capitalism" and "people before profits".
However, that is not the image projected by Survé at No 3 Silo, where residents are said to be jittery about his bodyguards.
One resident said the body corporate had asked Survé to remove his private security force from the building, which has its own guards on duty around the clock.
V&A residential manager Wendy Viola declined to comment, saying this was a body corporate matter. V&A Waterfront management also declined to comment.
Last month the PIC suspended two senior officials after a preliminary report on alleged irregularities relating to the commission's AYO transaction.
"The preliminary report clearly reflects a blatant flouting of governance and approval processes of the PIC. Employees of the PIC have also been implicated in these irregularities," the PIC said in a statement.
In his reply to Sunday Times questions, Survé said neither he nor the Sekunjalo Group had ever borrowed money from the PIC.
"For clarification, the GEPF managed through the PIC is an investor in Independent Media along with the Sekunjalo Independent Media consortium, [and] Interacom Investment Holdings of China," he said.
"Contrary to what is being said by much of the media, it is in my individual capacity, or as part of the Sekunjalo Group, that I have invested hundreds of millions of rands into Independent Media to keep 1,500 people employed and ensure there is a progressive narrative of media in SA today.
"We have utilised funds from successful investments to continue supporting Independent Media and to grow shareholder value. At no stage over the past three years has the PIC or Interacom supported Independent Media with any financial input. All funding has come exclusively from myself, my family or the Sekunjalo Group.
"My family, myself and the Sekunjalo Group, increasingly see Independent Media as an important social-impact investment for SA," Survé said.
"Independent Media is the only news platform in SA today that is using its properties to foster positive social change."
Saarah Survé did not respond to Sunday Times inquiries about her Silo apartment...

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