TopTV to sell to Chinese company?

TopTV owner, On Digital Media (ODM), is in discussions with China based pay-tv business, StarTimes, according to a report from Business Day.

ODM began business rescue proceedings in November 2012, as per the new Companies Act (under Section 129), in order to stay afloat financially while it searched for an equity partner.

The group is set to publish an update on its business rescue plan today (17 April).

TopTV also announced that it will discontinue its Top Movies +24 and Top Junior channels from Wednesday.

“The deal, if successful, could see StarTimes — which operates pay-TV services in nine African countries — buying out TopTV’s shareholders and settling some of the company’s mounting debt,” Business Day said.

The paper pointed out that regulations, however, currently cap foreign ownership on licensed broadcasting entities at 20%.

Startimes says it started developing its African markets in 2002, and was issued the first digital TV operator license by Rwanda in 2007. Currently the group has licenses and registered companies in 10 African nations including: Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Republic of central Africa, Guinea and Kenya.

The Asian company adds that it has established wireless digital TV platform in many African countries and will invest in mobile TV service platform and Internet business platform in the near future.

ODM originally underwent a business review in February 2012, following the resignation of former CEO, Vino Govender.

In an update on the status of those proceedings, in February 2013, TopTV said it “received a formal written conditional offer from one of the parties that initially expressed an interest in December 2012”.

ODM added that a further two separate expressions of interest had been received. The group said it would consider the offer and expressions of interest, along with its professional advisory team.

When BusinessTech queried TopTV on its search for an equity partner on Tuesday (16 April), interim CEO, Eddie Mbalo said: “The only information I can communicate at this time is that the Business Rescue Practitioner (BRP) will publish the business rescue plan tomorrow, 17 April 2013. Further information will be communicated by the BRP once the plan has been published.”

Mbalo did not respond to questions about StarTimes at the time of writing.

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TopTV to sell to Chinese company?