Matjila: I didn’t know Erin Energy was insolvent when PIC invested in it

The Public Investment Corporation lost R330 million in a deal with Erin Energy Corporation.

Former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) CEO Dan Matjila appearing at the commission of inquiry into the PIC. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) CEO Dan Matjila on Monday told the commission he did not know Erin Energy was technically insolvent at the time the corporation invested in it.

The corporation lost R330 million in the deal.

He described the risk processes carried out by the relevant committee before the decision to invest was made.

Matjila said the investment committee could not ignore any issues raised by the risk committee.

“Commissioner, I don’t believe the risk could have been ignored or any issues raised by the risk committee.”

Matjila said the losses incurred in the Erin Energy transaction were minute when compared to the PIC's entire portfolio.

He's spoken on the Daybreak Farms transaction, which he said, was saved by a change in leadership that he facilitated.

However, he said the Erin Energy deal wasn't so lucky.

In 2013, the corporation bought 30% of the company for $270 million.

Matjila told the PIC commission the oil price that fell sharply was the primary cause for Erin Energy to ultimately file for bankruptcy in 2018, resulting in a loss for the PIC.

He said the $333 million that was ultimately lost was tiny but not insignificant.

“…Because we deal with billions and trillions, so this is a fraction of a percentage of the portfolio.”

He insisted there were successful deals the PIC struck, which brought in way more.

“Commissioner, if we told you the other amounts that we’ve made… we did 20 billion on Anglo alone.”

Matjila conceded to the commission that this transaction was not a great one but said one could not get everything right in investments.