Newspaper group set to be sold to locals

06 April 2013 - 17:09 By Sapa
Newspapers. File photo.
Newspapers. File photo.

A local consortium has signed an agreement to buy the country’s largest English newspaper group, Independent Newspapers and Media SA, from its international owner, the parties announced on Saturday.

“We are excited to bring this asset back to our country,” said Iqbal Survé, chairman of Sekunjalo Independent Media Consortium, which signed a sales agreement with Irish-based parent company Independent Newspapers and Media (INM).

The Sekunjalo consortium signed a binding agreement to buy the entire issued share capital of INM SA for R2 billion.

Survé said that the consortium supported a free and fair press that made news available to all.

“INM South Africa has a great content platform with a strong online presence.”  He said the company hoped that INM SA would experience similar growth to that occurring in emerging markets in Africa — in particular with newspapers written in vernacular languages.

Tony Howard, CEO of INM SA, said sale would lead to exciting new opportunities.

“The return of the business to local ownership is an important next step in the history and development of INMSA”.

The new owners said that they hoped the sale would increase black shareholding in South Africa’s media sector.

They also hoped to create further print media in indigenous languages in SA and the continent at large.

Vincent Crowley, CEO of the international INM group, said the sale would help reduce the group’s debt as it remained in talks with banks to plan refinancing.

“I have no doubt that the [INM SA] company will prosper well in the years ahead,” said Crowley.

The final handover is still subject to certain conditions including approval from various bodies such as the SA Reserve Bank and Competition Commission.

INM SA publishes 18 newspapers including The Star, Pretoria News, Cape Argus, Cape Times, Isolezwe, The Mercury, The Daily Voice and various community titles.

The Sekunjalo consortium is part of a larger group of SA companies involved in investments and fund management.