There were strong rumours in the market late yesterday [Thursday] that Tokyo Sexwale’s Mvelaphanda group has quietly bought control of Johncom, owners of the Sunday Times, Sowetan and half of Business Day and the Financial Mail. An announcement may be made today.
Business Day understands that Mvela bought the stake in Johncom held by asset manager Allan Gray.
From Business Day and Sowetan Online:
By Peter Bruce
The transaction may have taken place late last week, just after Mvela published a cautionary notice. There is no indication how much was paid for the stake, but Allan Gray held about 30% of Johncom. Abdul David of Allan Gray described the reports as “speculation”.
Citibank recently valued that portion of Johncom which would remain, should management go ahead with plans to dispose of the Johncom stake in M-Net and hive off the stake in Caxton, at R6bn. That would imply Mvela paid about R2bn for a “forward stake” in what will be known as Opco or Avusa.
The new speculation arises out of a surprise announcement at the weekend by Johncom that it had ended talks with potential black investor groups. Johncom is still not viewed as a fully black-empowered company, and the need to become one had been driving the talks.
But Johncom withdrew a cautionary notice last week, just as Mvela was issuing one of its own.
Johncom is trying to sell its 38% stake in M-Net back to Naspers and to leave its 38% holding in Caxton, one of the country’s largest printers, in a listed shell of its own.
Terry Moolman, Caxton’s founder and owner, has taken the M-Net deal to the competition authorities.
It was accepted originally that front-running empowerment groups in the race to control Johncom were Mvela and Cyril Ramaphosa’s Shanduka group, but it may now be the case that Sexwale has done the deal on his own. It also seems clear that, by dealing directly with Allan Gray, Mvela will have avoided the many complications that could have arisen in dealing directly with Johncom management.
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NVDL: And I had speculated earlier that Telkom would buy a stake, well, the new Telkom, Telkom Media. I guess they are still shedding their fixed line operations, and so in a sense it was a question of readiness and eligibility.