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MultiChoice complaint is part of new era of accountability, says non-profit

Feb 27 2019 19:50
Marelise van der Merwe

The complaint lodged against MultiChoice with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa is important as the country emerges from a period of "ubiquitous corruption", Khulisa Social Solutions has said.

In the heads of argument it filed with Icasa on February 18, the non-profit said, "South Africa is emerging out of a period of ubiquitous corruption into one of accountability and a return to good governance.

"We cannot merely play lip-service to the regulatory order and then skip over it as if there is no need for accountability."

MultiChoice was previously part of Naspers and unbundled from its parent company in September 2018.

In late January, Khulisa lodged a complaint with Icasa's Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) regarding the listing, saying MultiChoice was contravening the Electronic Communications Act.

Khulisa wanted an opportunity to file representations with the communications regulator before MultiChoice started trading its shares.

Transfer or no transfer?

MultiChoice, for its part, said it did not believe the regulator's prior approval was necessary for the listing to go ahead.  

In the detailed heads of argument, which Fin24 has seen, Khulisa takes issue with MultiChoice's unbundling and listing plan, which it says "constitutes a transfer of its [MultiChoice's] Individual Broadcasting Service License without obtaining permission from the Authority [Icasa]".

In Khulisa's view, the unbundling means that on February 27 – the date of listing – there will be a transfer of the ultimate control of the licence from Naspers to the management and board of MultiChoice Group, which it says requires the permission of Icasa under the Electronic Communications Act.

According to the same document, MultiChoice submits that because Naspers shareholders would take up 438 million shares in specie in the new MultiChoice Group, there would be no change of control.

'Constructive engagement'

In response to an email from Fin24 earlier on Wednesday, MultiChoice said it was satisfied that it had sought all the necessary regulatory approvals in relation to its listing on the JSE as required.

"We have engaged constructively with Icasa’s CCC to resolve the matter," said Joe Heshu, MultiChoice Group Executive: Corporate Affairs.

By day end MultiChoice shares were trading 11% up at R106.01, having opened at R95.50.

Prior to the unbundling, Naspers said it was a positive step that would "create an empowered, top 40 JSE-listed African entertainment company".

MultiChoice operates across 50 countries across sub-Saharan Africa.

* Fin24 is part of Media24, a subsidiary of Naspers

icasa  |  naspers  |  multichoice  |  unbundling


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