The Public Investment Corporation (PIC), on behalf of its clients, does hold a substantial amount of bonds of various State Owned Entities (SOEs). A significant portion of the PIC’s bond-holdings in SOEs is Government-guaranteed. At the outset, it should be stated that SOEs have never defaulted on any of the PIC’s bond investments. It should also be contextualised that bondholders do not have the same rights as shareholders.
The Government is the sole shareholder in SOEs and therefore has the right to appoint members to the boards of SOEs. The PIC is concerned with governance practices of certain SOEs and has engaged the National Treasury in this regard. The PIC is also currently in discussions with external company law experts to determine what changes can be made to the PIC’s governance policies to enable the PIC to exercise a greater degree of oversight on the governance structures of investee SOEs.
The PIC has an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Policy, which is based on corporate governance best practice, specifically for SOEs. This policy takes into account, inter alia, documents such as King IV, the Companies Act and the Public Finance Management Act. The PIC also has an ESG Rating Matrix with various metrics on environmental, social and governance best practice with which it rates the ESG scores of SOEs. The PIC actively engages all investee companies, including SOEs, on ESG matters based on PIC ESG policies and the ESG score derived from the ratings matrix.
As a result of these engagements, Eskom understands what our views are on a number of issues, including governance. The PIC can assure government employees and pensioners that it is not conflicted as an organ of state, as all investment decisions are taken in the best interest of our clients and in line with client mandate requirements and the investment risk parameters stipulated by client mandates.
In the case of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), this mandate is approved by the GEPF board of trustees and is based on a detailed asset and liability study. The continued support of SOEs will be underpinned by these mandate requirements. Moreover, all investments are also subject to a robust due diligence process which includes a credit analysis, ESG reports as well as risk and legal reports. The PIC remains fully committed to work with National Treasury and Government to improve governance and public finance management in SOEs.