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Manyi furious over TimesLIVE request to reveal shareholders

24 August 2017 - 12:05 By Katharine Child
Jimmy Manyi's Lodidox bought the Guptas' newspaper and television station for R450-million.
Jimmy Manyi's Lodidox bought the Guptas' newspaper and television station for R450-million.
Image: James Oatway / Sunday Times

TimesLIVE has sent a legal letter demanding that Gupta ally Mzwanele Manyi provide information on the identities of the shareholders in his company Lodidox.

Lodidox this week bought the Guptas' newspaper and television station for R450-million with money loaned to him by the Guptas for the deal.

It is law‚ according to Section 26 of the Companies Act‚ that the names of shareholders in a private company must be provided when requested. If company directors fail to give such information after any reasonable request‚ they are breaking the law and can be criminally charged.

When he received the lawyer's letter on Wednesday‚ Manyi tweeted that he was being harassed because he was black.

"Guilty until proven innocent? @TimesLIVE #HarrasmentOfBlacks". [sic]

Manyi has 14 days to provide it or face criminal charges.

Lodidox bought the Guptas' stake in The New Age newspaper and ANN7 for R450-million. A valuation of the company that is in possession of Business Day put the company at R50-million.

While it appears Manyi is the sole director of Lodidox‚ according to information in the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission‚ he could still have shareholders with a controlling stake in his company.

The letter received by Manyi on Wednesday explains that TimesLIVE editor Andrew Trench is requesting the information.

Trench has been accused of being racist on Twitter as well as "jelous" [sic] of the deal. Benji Ngobeni tweeted: "Be aware whenever you conclude a deal without a white partner! They will harass u."

Ngobeni tweeted that white people wanted in on the deal: "Yes 100 % owned by @MzwaneleManyi the Whites need shares of 450-million deal clinched with Oakbay."

Phelelani Mpanza‏ said: "Pure arrogance displayed by agents of WMC. This is disrespect black owned businesses [sic]." 

Mncedisi Qwalana‏ has criticised the media company for trying to find out who has interests in the business buying the Guptas' media companies.

"Bad move by Times Media‚ casting aspersions on Mzwanele in this way they're seen to be attacking emerging black business."

Bosso‏ @musdef15 accused Tiso Blackstar, the publisher of TimesLIVE, of idiocy: "Who the hell do these idiots think they are?".

But Kasi Ricardian told Manyi on Twitter to "comply with the law".

The letter explains the Supreme Court of Appeal last year ruled that denying information about the identities of shareholders goes against the Companies Act.

In the precedent-setting case reporter‚ Julius Cobbett, working for Moneyweb, asked for information from the Sharemax group of companies in 2013 on the identities of its shareholders. He was investigating a controversial property investment scheme linked to Sharemax companies.

Sharemax refused to provide the information and instead demanded an explanation for Moneyweb's motives. Three years later, after failing to produce the information, the case was heard at the Supreme Court of Appeal. The court found that information on shareholders had to be made available and that Moneyweb's motives for wanting it were irrelevant.