Gupta exit may save ANN7 and The New Age from banking crisis

2017-08-21 11:46 - Gordon Bell, Bloomberg
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Johannesburg - The R140m sale by the Guptas of The New Age and ANN7 to Mzwanele Manyi may allow the media interests to keep operating after the decision by banks to stop dealing with companies linked to the Guptas, a family who are friends with President Jacob Zuma and in business with one of his sons.

Oakbay Investments, the company controlled by the Gupta family that’s having its last bank accounts closed, said on Monday it agreed to sell its South African media interests to management and an ally of the friends of Zuma.

Oakbay will get R300m for Infinity Media, which operates news channel ANN7, and R150m for its two-thirds stake in the publisher of The New Age newspaper, the company said in a statement on Monday. The assets will be sold through “vendor financing at acceptable terms,” it said.

Manyi is the sole director of Lodidox, and was registered as director on June 23, according to company filings.

The former government spokesperson is a regular political commentator on ANN7 and has been one of the most prominent supporters of the campaign against so-called “white monopoly capital” advocated by Zuma.

The New Age and ANN7 have run articles and broadcast programs attacking critics of Zuma including former finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

Bank of Baroda, the last bank that’s offering services to the Guptas companies, is in the process of closing Oakbay’s accounts after South Africa’s four biggest lenders shut them last year. The Guptas had warned that about 7 500 jobs are at risk should the accounts be closed.

The deal is expected to be concluded in the next “few weeks,” Oakbay said. “The sale will also allow the shareholder the time to focus on clearing its name in the face of unfounded media allegations,” it said.

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