Independent Media to sell South African arm
Independent News & Media is to sell its South African business to a local consortium for close to €170 million ($219.6 million) following a deal at the weekend, the Irish Times reported Monday.
The sale comes as reports claim that Bret Chenoweth, the chief executive whom Independent Media wants to sack from APN News and Media, the publisher in which it holds a major stake, was preparing to resign.
The Irish company has been in talks to sell its South African operation, which includes the Star and Daily Voice, along with evening and weekend newspapers and magazines.
According to the Irish Times report, Independent News and Media confirmed Sunday that it has agreed detailed heads of terms with philanthropist Iqbal Survé’s Sekunjalo Independent Media consortium to sell the business for two billion South African rand.
“The disposal of the South African business will require both INM shareholder approval and competition commission approval in South Africa,” the company said.
The price is said to be around seven times the operation’s earnings, though short of the €250 million that INM had hoped to be paid for it.
The group, which is 29.9 per cent owned by media and telecoms mogul Denis O’Brien, is seeking to sell the business to pay down some of its €430 million debt.
Dr Survé’s Sekunjalo group is an investment holdings and private equity business with interests in defence, energy, minerals, oil and telecoms. He is well known in South Africa for his youth charities.
The Irish media group is seeking a shareholder meeting to have Mr Chenoweth and several other APN directors removed.