A company owned by Mzwanele Manyi has forked out R450-million to buy The New Age (TNA) Media and ANN7 from Gupta-owned firm Oakbay.
Oakbay announced the sale of its newspaper and TV channel on Monday, saying the agreement with the company Lodidox would conclude over the “next few weeks”.
“We are delighted to have reached an agreement with Lodidox and the management team; the sale of our shareholdings will secure the future of these businesses and help preserve the jobs of their employees. Both businesses are inherently sound and well positioned for growth in their respective market segments. We wish them every success in the future,” said Ronica Ragavan, acting chief executive of Oakbay.
Oakbay’s shares in Infinity Media, which manages ANN7 was sold for R300-million. Its shares in TNA Media, which publishes The New Age newspaper, where sold for R150-million.
In its statement on Monday, Oakbay said that its shares so that the businesses and their employees could have the “bright and prosperous future they deserve”.
Significantly, the group also cited recent allegations against the Gupta family and the company as a reason for the sale.
“The sale will also allow the shareholder the time to focus on clearing its name in the face of unfounded media allegations,” Oakbay said.
Manyi, meanwhile, is “delighted” with his new purchases.
“These are two strong businesses which are full of potential and, under the right external circumstances, can become an increasingly important and relevant part of the South African media landscape. In addition, I am particularly impressed that the shareholders of Oakbay have agreed to do a vendor financing at acceptable terms as part of their commitment to transformation and to expedite the transaction,” he said.
TNA and ANN7 have been criticised in the past for producing content which favours the Zumas and Guptas. The EFF has banned both media houses from its press briefings, while former finance minister Pravin Gordhan singled out ANN7 journalists during one presser, instructing them to “play fair”. Journalists from the TV channel were booed during the press conference.
The media houses’ new owner Manyi is a known Zuma supporter. In a recent interview, Manyi said he hoped to cure South Africa of “Guptaphobia”.
It is unclear when exactly the agreement between Oakbay and Lodidox will conclude.