Naspers’s R3bn BEE deals draw huge interest

Media24 and MultiChoice South Africa had drawn huge interest with their black economic empowerment (BEE) share schemes worth nearly R3 billion, the Naspers subsidiaries said yesterday.

The companies said the offers, announced five weeks ago, had been oversubscribed and that nearly 200 000 black investors had applied to buy shares under the schemes, according to preliminary figures.

In September Naspers unveiled two separate BEE deals.

Black investors were invited to buy a 15 percent stake in MultiChoice SA, the pay television provider, through Phuthuma Nathi Investments, while 15 percent of Media24, Naspers’s education and print media division, was sold to Welkom Yizani on behalf of black investors.

The stake in Multichoice SA, which also owns internet service provider MWeb and 30 percent of television house M-Net/SuperSport, is valued at R2.25 billion, while the Media24 interest is worth R730 million.

Under the schemes, black investors were invited to apply for a minimum of 20 shares at R10 a share. The deadline to buy shares was extended by a week and expired on Friday.

The shares of Multichoice SA and Media24 are valued at R50 each, and Naspers will fund the remainder via Phuthuma Nathi and Welkom Yizani, respectively. Investors would repay this loan through dividends from Multichoice and Media24, so Naspers is in effect financing 80 percent of the deals.

The preliminary number of black people that have invested in Multichoice SA and Media24 is nearly 200 000.

Multichoice SA’s general manager for corporate affairs, Jackie Rakitla, said the group had received more than 90 000 applications. The breakdown of how many companies and individuals had bought shares would be issued this week.

Media24 spokesperson Neil Jansen said the Welkom Yizani scheme had attracted more than 100 000 individual black investors and "was more than 200 percent oversubscribed".

Under the conditions to acquire shares, black-owned and -controlled companies were required to receive ratings certificates from BEE ratings firms such as Empowerdex.

Empowerdex deputy chief executive Chia Chao Wu would not reveal how many firms had applied for ratings but said the schemes "were very popular".

Media24’s financial director, Francois Groepe, said the applicants would be informed of their share allocations within the next few weeks.

Investors will be allowed to sell their shares to other black investors after five years.

Naspers managing director Koos Bekker said at the time of the Multichoice BEE announcement that the group’s aim was to increase the empowerment shareholding at its operations to 30 percent to meet government requirements.

Naspers is also believed to be behind a R2.5 billion offer for the 38 percent stake in M-Net/SuperSport that is held by Johnnic Communications (Johncom). M-Net/SuperSport is controlled by MNH, which owns 52 percent, split equally between Johncom and Naspers.

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Naspers’s R3bn BEE deals draw huge interest