April 18, 2019 / 2:44 PM / 5 months ago

South Africa's PIC denies considering ex-Absa executive as next CEO

JOHANNESBURG, April 18 (Reuters) - South Africa’s state pension fund denied considering a former banking executive as its next chief executive as it seeks to fill a position which has become increasingly sensitive given the successive departures of its CEO and temporary replacement.

Citing unnamed people, Bloomberg had reported that Public Investment Corp (PIC) is considering Kennedy Bungane, formerly of lender Absa Group, as its new CEO.

The move would follow the abrupt departure of Dan Matjila in November and the suspension of stand-in successor Matshepo More in March.

“The reports are speculative and baseless,” said PIC, which plays a central part in the country’s financial sector as it manages more than 2 trillion rand ($142 billion) of government employee pensions and is Africa’s biggest fund manager.

PIC is also the biggest investor in South Africa’s economy, holding a large chunk of government bonds and stakes in blue-chip companies such as miner Anglo American, lender Absa and grocer retailer Shoprite.

As part of the legal process of appointing a new CEO, the position would need to be advertised before a panel makes a recommendation to the finance minister as to the best candidate. “As of today, no advertisement has gone out,” PIC said in a statement.

Matjila, who had been at helm since 2014, quit after President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered an inquiry into the company following accusations that senior executives had misused funds and made careless investment decisions.

PIC then in March suspended acting chief executive More over alleged interference in an inquiry into impropriety at the fund.

$1 = 14.0575 rand Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng Editing by David Holmes

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