'Your jobs are safe‚' Guptas tell staff

21 August 2017 - 12:37 By Genevieve Quintal
Atul Gupta at the launch of ANN7 news channel on August 21, 2013, in Johannesburg. File photo.
Atul Gupta at the launch of ANN7 news channel on August 21, 2013, in Johannesburg. File photo.
Image: James Oatway

Staff at the Gupta-owned ANN7 and The New Age have been told that their jobs are safe following the announcement that Oakbay are pulling out of their media interests.

Management‚ which included family spokesman Gary Naidoo‚ New Age editor Ricky Naidoo and TNA/ANN7 editor-in-chief Moegsien Williams‚ addressed staff at a meeting on Monday following the announcement.

According to staff members‚ who wanted to remain anonymous‚ management could not answer some of the questions employees were asking‚ saying they were still in negotiations and would be in a better position to provide information as soon as that process had been concluded.

Gupta-owned holding company Oakbay Investments announced earlier that it was are pulling out of their media interests‚ selling their shareholding in Infinity Media and TNA for a combined R450m.

The company said Lodidox — owned by Gupta ally Mzwanele Manyi — and management would purchase the companies.

Oakbay’s shareholding in Infinity Media‚ which operates the ANN7 News Channel‚ will be sold for R300m; and its two-thirds stake in TNA Media‚ the publisher of The New Age newspaper‚ will be sold for R150m.

In a video of the meeting‚ seen by Business Day‚ Williams told staff that the Gupta family had been put under “unprecedented and unrelenting pressure” over the past few years and they had been looking at its shareholding in the company from before the middle of 2016.

“Firstly the family decided if it will help it will abdicate its executive role in all our companies … to say to the world out there and the people we are dealing with‚ the banks‚ ‘okay the Guptas are moving out of the way‚ this is not about the Guptas‚ it’s about the seven-and-a-half thousand people the companies employ'… But in the last few months‚ as you may well have noticed‚ the situation has become even worse for us‚” Williams said.

“Most certainly we face an uncertain future.”

He said the family decided to move out of the media companies and save jobs.

Williams said it had become difficult for the media companies to operate lately. TNA had battled to secure advertising.

“It’s probably for the best for you as employees and also for the very important contribution we are making as a newspaper and TV channel and online … We made our mark and will continue to make our mark.”

Four major banks in SA closed the family’s accounts in 2016‚ with the Bank of China following suit mainly because it viewed the family as politically exposed.

Recently the Bank of Baroda indicated that it would close the accounts of the controversial family at the end of August.

A staff member told Business Day that employees were hopeful that with the announcement of the sale a “new bank” will come on board and salaries will be paid.

Staff salaries were currently being paid through Bank of Baroda‚ but this would be the last month.

- BusinessLIVE