The hypocrisy and lies of Business Day, by Iqbal Survé

rpm

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#1
Tiso Blackstar’s Business Day could by all accounts be considered irrelevant due to its small daily circulation of approximately 20 000 nationally.

It is therefore easy to dismiss Business Day’s rantings and media manipulation as insignificant especially when compared to the reach of Business Report (BR) in the Independent Media stable, which has more than 1.5 million daily readers.

Why then would I write this opinion piece? Well, Tiso Blackstar and its Sunday publication, Sunday Times have recently been under the spotlight, especially after its editor, Bongani Siqoko, bravely apologised for their shameful violation of the press code and media manipulation on several matters including the so-called SARS “rogue unit”.

Subsequently three prominent journalists were named, including the editor of the Financial Mail, Rob Rose, who, it has been hinted, was either paid or manipulated, to write negative stories. This manipulation and fake news presented by Sunday Times, Financial Mail and Business Day can be regarded as part of a deep rotten culture.

Evidence of Tiso Blackstar’s hypocrisy is clear to see beyond the Sunday Times’s well reported accusations and manipulations. The Steinhoff debacle, for instance, is reported but covered with kid gloves by Tiso Blackstar and Business Day.

If anything, it is reported with a deferential attitude to the individuals involved. A second example is their reporting on the South African Post Office, which in its last financial year lost R978 million. Now if the Post Office was run by a black executive it would most certainly have been headlined with article after article screaming about the incompetence of the executive in charge.

A different standard is applied to white companies as opposed to black companies.

Reporting on white companies is always qualified with an excuse, while black companies are treated with contempt, disdain and suspicion. Let’s look at Tiso Blackstar. Formerly Johnnic and Times Media Group, it proved to be a task beyond even (now President) Cyril Ramaphosa and Tokyo Sexwale to transform this business.

In the case of Mvelaphanda, these businesses cost them billions and the current management and journalists have overseen the destruction of shareholder value, including a PIC loss of R7bn a few years ago. None of this is reported on by Business Day.

Perhaps it is because, according to well-placed sources at Tiso Blackstar, white management and journalists are paid more and given bonuses at the expense of black journalists. Business Day has a particular way of portraying black executives and black companies.

As an example, for many months, Business Day ran frontpage headlines about the PIC’s CEO, Dr Dan Matjila, who was allegedly in a romantic relationship with a woman called Pretty Louw despite Dr Matjila going on record in parliament denying any relationship.

Yet Business Day journalist, Carol Paton, rehashed this repeatedly in the Goebbels tradition of propaganda, revealing her bias towards a faction that wants Matjila removed for their own nefarious purposes. The recent Budlender report found unequivocally that Dr Matjila did not have a romantic or inappropriate relationship with Ms Louw.

One would think that Business Day owes Dr Matjila and Ms Louw an apology. Instead, they continue to focus on that part of the report which is unrelated to their initial allegation against him. They applaud white executives who have destroyed hundreds of billions of value but destroy a black professional who has increased the value of the PIC assets under management from R400bn to R2 trillion during his tenure as an executive.

Similarly, I and Sekunjalo are victims of Business Day and its shenanigans and defamatory campaign. There are desperate attempts to characterise the Sekunjalo Group in a negative way using the same Goebbels strategy. Despite Sekunjalo operating with integrity and never, in its twenty years of existence, been found wanting by any competent authority as a result of innuendo, gossip and hearsay.

Sekunjalo’s only “crime” is that we dared to invest in one of the largest media companies in South Africa and for that decision and our transformation agenda, we are crucified by Tiso Blackstar publications, including Business Day, on a continuous basis.

Other establishment media do not hesitate to repeat these lies as if they are gospel. They do this without any facts, data, evidence and any phone calls to us to fact check. They do this with a clearly defined corporate agenda and assassinating my character to serve their own needs. It goes beyond simply the fact that Tiso Blackstar is a competitor of Independent Media.

It goes to the heart of transformation of the South African economy, that a successful black business will not be tolerated by the establishment. An independently minded and owned black business is an anathema to untransformed elements at Tiso Blackstar, Business Day and other media houses. Economists and psychologists will have a field day trying to establish whether this campaign is purely driven by business greed, politics or subliminal racism.

Subliminal racism is defined as a mental process affecting someone’s mind without them being aware of it. Racial superiority and apartheid somewhat regrettably damaged these journalists that they fail to acknowledge the success of black businesses and black executives and black people in general. By calling them subliminal racists I am being kind for I have no doubt that for many their racism is far more overt .

I am a victim of this subliminal racism. As an example, I am a medical doctor with three degrees and an alumnus from world-class institutions, including Harvard. I have served and serve as chairman of many multilateral institutions. In the Sekunjalo Group we have some of the most prominent global business leaders and entrepreneurs on our advisory boards.

I would venture that there are very few Chairmen or CEOs of large corporations on the JSE that have similar qualifications or boards. Despite Sekunjalo’s success - winning numerous awards, my success as an entrepreneur and business leader, and our Group performance exceeding the market consistently over many years - we have never been given the acknowledgement or respect that is given to white businessmen or executives.

On the contrary, we are treated with disrespect and contempt. It is standard journalistic practise that you refer to a medical doctor as a doctor. Despite this, the journalists at Tiso Blackstar cannot bring themselves to refer to me as such. Of course I have no problem if you don’t call me a doctor, but I simply mention this as part of the subliminal racism inherent in their thinking and their writing.
 

rpm

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#2
A further example are entrepreneurs who have investments in public and private companies. They are not referred to in the same way as Business Day refers to the Sekunjalo Group investments, even in instances where we are a minority investor.

They would use adjectives like Iqbal Survé’s AEEI, Iqbal Survé’s AYO, Iqbal Survé’s Sagarmatha etc.to describe these companies, ignoring that each of these companies have independent boards and superb management teams and that I do not serve on any of these company’s boards or management teams.

In some instances, I am a very indirect minority shareholder. If they were not racist, they would refer to RMB as Rupert’s RMB or to Steinhoff as Wiese’s Steinhoff or to Naspers as Bekker’s Naspers or to Discovery as Gore’s Discovery. Why else would they characterise the companies that we have invested in, in this way, if it is not to undermine these companies. It is nothing other than subliminal racism.

Another example of outright manipulation, occurred as recently as yesterday when Carol Paton of Business Day deliberately misled her readers by suggesting that the commission of inquiry into the PIC includes Ayo and Sagarmatha. This is a blatant lie.

One assumes as a journalist she fact-checked the Government Gazette. There is not a single word in the terms of reference about Ayo, Sagarmatha or any other company, yet she deliberately did this to try and manipulate the narrative to serve her own corporate interests and faction. She is serving her masters and speaks with a forked tongue.

It would be interesting if the commission investigates Steinhoff, Tiso Blackstar and all the many companies that Bantu Holomisa highlighted. The media will have a field day since there are many people in these investments that are close to the puppet masters of Carol Paton.

As South Africans we must welcome a comprehensive investigation into the PIC as announced by President Ramaphosa since that must lead to stability of the largest asset manager on the African continent. I am certain that there are board members and executives of the PIC of integrity that would welcome the opportunity to clear the mud slinging from Business Day and the Tiso Blackstar stable.

What Carol Paton does not tell her readers is that Tiso Blackstar has surreptitiously approached the shareholders of Independent Media, including the PIC, on many occasions to try and consolidate the newspapers of the two businesses.

Tiso Blackstar is in deep financial trouble with significant bank debt and desperately requires consolidation to survive. Since we acquired Independent Media, instead of working together in the interests of media, journalists and employees, they launched this campaign to undermine Sekunjalo and myself.

This is the disgraceful use of media to undermine a respectable and legitimate business for corporate greed and predatory conduct by Tiso Blackstar. There are many good people working for Tiso Blackstar as there are many good people working for Independent Media and other media publications.

It is a Shakespearean tragedy that the good reputation of everyone is besmirched by this corporate greed, manipulation and fake news and a complete disregard for the true values of our young democracy by these rogue and paid-for journalists.

I hope that the editor and owners of Business Day and other media, including radio and television, will take this to heart and apologise to the South African public for their reckless manipulation of the facts and change the culture to that of fact checking, balance and not serving factional political interests or narrow corporate agendas.

It’s never too late to change. Perhaps you should take a leaf out of the book of Bongani Siqoko. You could learn a thing or two.

* Dr Iqbal Survé is executive chairman of the Sekunjalo Group.
 

rpm

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#3
Tiso Blackstar response to Iqbal Survé

The Tiso Blackstar Group has taken note of a column by Iqbal Survé, executive chairman of the Sekunjalo Group, which was recently published by various Independent Media publications and online. Whilst it is not the preference of the Tiso Blackstar Group to engage in litigation by correspondence, the column is littered with gross inaccuracies, blatant lies and defamatory statements which call for a response particularly as, in the age of fake news, malicious falsehood is often perceived as the truth.

Survé’s meandering diatribe against the Tiso Blackstar Group publications like Business Day and a number of our leading journalists defies belief. He plumbs the depths by degenerating into the cesspool of hate speech by comparing the legitimate reporting of Business Day, South Africa’s most respected business publication, to a “Goebbels strategy”. Goebbels was a Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany, a close associate and devoted follower of Adolf Hitler and known for his virulent antisemitism which extended to advocating for the extermination of the Jewish people.

It is also deeply ironic that Survé makes numerous references to the press code in his column despite the fact that his media group has turned its back on the co-regulatory Press Council to which the rest of the industry belongs and which holds all member publications to account in terms of our industry’s professional code.

Tiso Blackstar further underlines our commitment to freedom of expression and editorial independence which we believe stand in stark contrast to current practices at Independent Media.

Tiso Blackstar and Independent Media

Survé claims Tiso Blackstar “has surreptitiously approached the shareholders of Independent Media, including the PIC, on many occasions to try and consolidate the newspapers of the two businesses”.

This is false. The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) met with the Tiso Blackstar Group in 2016 asking for help with Independent Media as they were understandably concerned about the running of the company, were encountering difficulty in obtaining financial information from Survé and had growing concerns about the ever dwindling prospect of being repaid amounts loaned to Survé to fund his acquisition of Independent Media. A meeting was set up by the PIC for Tiso Blackstar to meet Survé at the Maslow Hotel on 29 September 2016. This meeting traversed how the Tiso Blackstar Group could potentially help the PIC, including but not limited to us assuming management control of the titles owned by Independent Media.

The meeting was unproductive, Survé was obstructive and PIC's concerns were exacerbated.

Tiso Blackstar shareholder value

Survé’s claims about Tiso management and journalists overseeing the destruction of shareholder value, including an alleged PIC loss of R7bn betrays his self-serving ignorance of the history of the Tiso Blackstar Group and its predecessor companies.

The PIC hasn’t lost 7bn. There is no basis in fact for this statement. The Tiso Blackstar market capitalisation was at a maximum of R4bn in 2015. PIC sold down their shareholding from 14.8% to 11.6% which was an historical shareholding related to when Avusa, a predecessor company, existed. When Tiso Blackstar took executive positions at Times Media Group the price was R7 per share. It increased to R20 per share and Tiso Blackstar bought the remaining shares that it didn’t own at R24 per share. In short, Survé’s understanding of the history of Tiso Blackstar and its forerunners is simply wrong.

The Tiso Blackstar Group's earnings – as our publicly available results show - have grown consistently since 2015, particularly in its media division. Clearly Survé and his team have neither reviewed them nor looked at our history or, more likely, are disingenuously misleading the market. We are not in financial trouble and we don’t need consolidation to survive.

In sharp contrast Survé, took over a very profitable business that is now loss-making and it appears he still owes the full purchase price plus interest to the PIC and the Chinese consortium which funded the transaction.

Here are the facts. In 2012 Independent News and Media PLC disclosed in its last financial results before the completed 2013 transaction which saw its South African operation sold to Survé’s consortium that the enterprise had delivered operating profit of €27m (approx. R300m) and an operating margin of 14.6%.

The Sagarmatha prospectus from earlier this year, commencing on page 120, provides the financial statements for Sekunjalo Independent Media which represents Sekunjalo’s controlling equity investment in Independent media.

There are four important highlights:

1. This entity had negative equity value of R393.8 million at FY2016. This appears from the balance sheet (page 122) and in Survé’s own directors statement on page 120.

2. In FY 2016 this entity sustained an operating loss of R319.3 million and a loss before tax of R548.0 million (Page 123).

3. Note 13 on page 145 lists loans from:

a. Interacom Investment Holdings Limited – which in Independent Media’s own publications identified the shareholders as China International Television and the China Africa Development Fund;

b. Government Employees Pension Fund; and

c. South African Textiles and Clothing Workers Union, which aggregated to more than R2 billion – and, in most cases, 50% of the loans were due for repayment to the lending parties as of August 2018.

4. Despite this dismal picture the entity had R1.19 billion on the balance sheet attached to goodwill and intangible assets which cannot be justified or defended for such a loss-making business and when these are removed the negative tangible equity value is enormous.

Our challenge to Survé

So today we issue a public challenge to Survé and an opportunity to silence his critics, not with innuendo, misrepresentations, blatant lies and inflammatory accusation, but with facts.

We challenge Survé to:

1. publish audited financial statements of Independent Media for the last three years so the performance that Survé claims is a matter of fact and of public record, and not conjecture, can be measured;

2. demonstrate through objective and irrefutable evidence how the entities connected to him have repaid the loans due in August 2018, particularly since the loans from the Government Employees Pension Fund make this an issue of pressing public interest particularly in the context of the looming PIC Commission of Enquiry;

3. demonstrate through objective and irrefutable evidence that the company he purchased in 2013 has the same assets today; and

4. demonstrate through objective and irrefutable evidence that the company he purchased which was profitable at that time is not technically insolvent today.

If our reporting on the above is found to be incorrect following a substantive and verifiable response from yourself we will issue an apology.
 

rpm

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#4
Tackling corporate crime

Survé’s suggestion that Tiso Blackstar Group titles have dealt with major corporate scandals like Steinhoff’s collapse with “kid gloves” is simply ludicrous.

Tiso publications, most specifically Business Day and the Financial Mail, have led the coverage of Steinhoff. Financial Mail editor Rob Rose has been at the forefront of this reporting and is the author of an explosive book called Steinheist which is due to be published shortly.

Our work speaks for itself. Examples include this cover story that the FM lead with in December 2017:

https://www.businesslive.co.za/fm/money-and-investing/2017-12-14-inside-steinhoffs-house-of-cards/

or this article by Rob Rose in 2018 https://www.businesslive.co.za/fm/features/cover-story/2018-05-03-inside-sas-enron-deconstructing-steinhoff/

or this collection of the Steinhoff Files which include articles by most of our leading journalists https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/companies/retail-and-consumer/2017-12-12-the-steinhoff-files-inside-sas-biggest-corporate-meltdown/


SAPO and double standards

Survé’s further claim that Tiso publications have reported with a “deferential attitude” on the South African Post Office (SAPO) and his suggestion that it would be different if a black executive headed the institution, is laughable.

We have reported extensively on SAPO and the mess it is in. One of our leading journalists, Business Day’s Carol Paton has over the past six months written three news stories on the Post Office which highlighted its backlog in mail delivery of 38m items and its failure to clear this backlog by the promised deadline of 30 September. There was also a report on proposed changes to the Banks Act which will make it possible for the Post Office to apply for a banking licence.

No other newsroom bothered to report on the mountain of undelivered mail at the Post Office. She also wrote a three-part series commissioned by Business Day editor Lukanyo Mnyanda in which she analysed the turnaround strategy of CE Mark Barnes.

The pieces examined the business strategy put in place by Barnes but concluded that the Post Office remained loss-making and the turnaround had not been successful.

Our coverage of corporate malfeasance and the business sector in general is extensive and by far the most comprehensive of any coverage in SA. It makes no distinction between black and white leadership or ownership and holds all to the same standards, as shown by our publications’ coverage of Steinhoff and Resilient among many others.

Making it about race

Survé’s claim that white managers and journalists at the Tiso Blackstar Group are remunerated differently to their black colleagues is a deliberate lie. We have a small executive management team in our media division which is majority black and is certainly not underpaid relative to white colleagues in the group.

Our title editors, of which only one of nine is white, are well paid both in terms of internal and external comparisons. Journalists are paid according to their experience, quality and contribution without racial or other bias.

The PIC

Survé claims: “Another example of outright manipulation, occurred as recently as yesterday when Carol Paton of Business Day deliberately misled her readers by suggesting that the commission of inquiry into the PIC includes Ayo and Sagarmatha. This is a blatant lie.”

The terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry state specifically that the commission will probe:

“Whether any alleged impropriety regarding investment decisions by the PIC in media reports in 2017 and 2018 contravened any legislation, PIC policy or contractual obligations and resulted in any undue benefit for any PIC director, or employee or any associate or family member of any PIC director or employee at the time".

The Ayo transaction was concluded with the PIC's support and the PIC’s proposed and agreed private placement in Sagarmatha were all among the “media reports in 2017 and 2018”

The Sunday Times

If there is anything to appreciate from Survé’s rambling column it is his acknowledgment of the courage of the Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko who has led his team in apologising and putting right a period of journalistic failures under previous editors and previous management. In doing so Siqoko has the full support of the Tiso Blackstar Group management and its board to do what is correct under these circumstances.

If Survé, meanwhile, believes our journalists have done wrong then he should pursue a complaint at the Press Ombudsman through the Press Council.

We await Survé's substantive response hereto with eager anticipation.
 

Gordon_R

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6,564
#5
TL;DR

Independent viewpoint on the saga: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2018-10-22-dr-surve-is-making-our-democracy-sick/

Dr Iqbal Survé has already done massive damage to the status of a free press in South Africa. Nobody takes his (and I use the word “his” advisedly) newspapers seriously. From his constant interference in what little remains of Independent Media’s editorial independence, to his creation of a fake investigative unit staffed by junior reporters who will now struggle ever to get a job with a reputable media company, he has contributed to the erosion of trust in our media. And as his business continues to crumble around him, he will do much more damage as he tries to deflect attention.

One of the weapons in State Capture’s arsenal was Media Capture, and there’s not a lot of difference in the way Survé and the Guptas have answered questions about their businesses. We can expect more disinformation campaigns from Survé, more attempts to divide opinion based on race, more attempts to erect straw targets to dilute attention, and more crude “opinion pieces” run on the front pages of the Independent publications formerly known as newspapers.
 
Joined
Feb 22, 2005
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16,574
#9
The likes of Roper can shout and scream "racism" as much as they want to, but ultimately this does boil down to an issue of race - the racism of those whites like him who will do everything within their means to undermine black advancement and excellence.
Eish recist!
 

R13...

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#11
Can see why he's bat for the PIC. They after all bankrolled his acquisition of independent media. Poor investment, there's no money in media
 

Gordon_R

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#14

access

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#17
subliminal racist? so you get called a racist no matter what and cant do anything about it.

voetsek you subliminal terrorist
 
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