Johannesburg - Staff at Independent Newspapers are
establishing a workers' trust in order to buy at least 25% of the local
operations, a trustee said on Thursday.
"There is a great deal of support among staff for the
idea," said Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois, one of the three provisional
"We've approached several possible funders and the
results have been very encouraging."
Business Report editor Ann Crotty and Tuwani Gumani, general
secretary of the Media Workers Association of South Africa, are also trustees.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is patron.
Independent Newspapers in South Africa is owned by troubled
Irish group Independent News & Media (INM).
The group includes the Cape Times, Cape Argus, The Star,
Pretoria News, The Mercury, and Business Report, among other titles.
INM announced earlier this month it would "explore a
range of strategic options" for its South African operations.
The staff trust was first mooted among Independent staff a
few years ago but "hit a wall" when the Irish owners refused to sell
off the local operations, according to an introductory letter posted on the
Dasnois, Crotty and Guwani explain in the letter they felt
the time was right to revive the trust, which would be open to all staff and is
supported by Mwasa.
"If there is to be a sale, we should make sure that
journalists and other staff are in a position to get a stake of some sort so
that we can have a say in the future of our newspapers and help to realise the
great potential this company has," they say.
Attorneys were working on a trust deed, which would be
posted on the site once it was ready.
The trust needs a financial backer for the bid, who would be
repaid from dividends so that staff would not have to put up any money.
Once the loan was repaid, the shares would revert to the
trust and its members.
However, the deal could take up to a year to come to
fruition, according to the letter.
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