South Africa’s Employee Pension Fund To Buy Stake In Newspapers

South Africa’s Employee Pension Fund To Buy Stake In Newspapers

From Business Day Live.

South Africa’s Government Employees Pension Fund is set to acquire a 25 percent stake in the Independent News & Media South Africa newspaper group, extending the government’s overall stake in media companies.

Worth about $52 million, this acquisition would add to the fund’s ownership in media companies; it already owns a 19.5 percent stake in Times Media Group, according to a report in Business Day Live.

The acquisition was initiated when Sekunjalo Independent Media asked the government to approve a roughly $200 million takeover of Independent News, according to the report. 

Sekunjalo owns 15 of South Africa’s most widely read English language newspapers, including The Star, The Mercury and the Cape Times. 

Sekunjalo was established by Iqbal Surve to buy Independent News & Media South Africa and “bring it home” after it was bought by the Irish holding company Independent News and Media in 1994 from Anglo American, according to Business Day Live.

The Irish company has been under severe financial strain in recent years, according to the report.

Sekunjalo and Independent News & Media signed a binding offer in February, subject to regulatory approval from the South African Reserve Bank and the Competition Commission, the report says.

The commission was formally notified of the deal by Sekunjalo on April 30 and it has 60 working days to approve it.

Pension fund spokesman Khaya Buthelezi said the purchase of the stake in Independent News is in line with the fund’s government mandate that “we seek to invest in commercially viable projects that deliver both financial and social returns…we seek to promote black economic empowerment to increase economic participation by the majority in the mainstream economy.”

Read more at Business Day Live.