Pension fund head resigns

Matshepo More temporarily takes over from Public Investment Corporation CEO Elias Masilela.

Former CEO of the Public Investment Corporation, Elias Masilela. Picture: PIC.

JOHANNESBURG - The chief executive of government pension fund, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), has resigned after three years at the helm of the continent's largest and most influential asset manager.

Elias Masilela will formally resign on 30 June but will take his outstanding leave with immediate effect, the PIC said in a statement on Friday.

Chief Financial Officer Matshepo More has been appointed as acting CEO.

The PIC, which has major stakes in some of South Africa's largest companies as well as other investments in sub-Saharan Africa, manages pensions on behalf of government employees.

Under Masilela, the fund's assets under management grew to R1,6 trillion and it increased exposure to African countries outside its home market and to alternative investments such as private equity.

The fund is well known in South Africa for its often activist stance - it has castigated companies over executive compensation and has been a vocal opponent of at least one recent deal.

Last year it opposed a $1,2 billion bid for drugmaker Adcock Ingram from Chilean suitor CFR Pharmaceuticals.

The PIC, at the time Adcock's top shareholder, said it did not want to swap its Adcock stock for that of CFR.

Its opposition helped pave the way for a successful bid from South African firm Bidvest, in which the PIC is also a shareholder.

In his tenure, Masilela has also tried to use the PIC to pursue a development agenda in Africa, even as some critics said the fund should focus all of its funds on the considerable development needs at home.

Masilela had argued that growth in Africa would ultimately help South Africa's economy, reducing unemployment.

"Do South Africans fully understand that? I'm not convinced that they do," he told Reuters in an interview in March.