Gupta link 'killed the business'‚ says Mzwanele Manyi
TNA Media’s association with the Gupta family created an unshakable perception that it was an integral part of “state capture” that led to the collapse of Afro Voice newspaper.
Mzwanele Manyi‚ chairman of Afrotone Media Holdings‚ made this submission in an application in the North Gauteng High Court to place TNA Media under provisional liquidation.
Afrotone bought TNA Media from Gupta-owned company Oakbay Investments in August 2017.
TNA Media traded as AfroVoice - a newspaper previously known as The New Age. It published its last edition on June 29.
Manyi said after his company bought TNA Media from Oakbay‚ Afrotone was confident that it would be able to divorce TNA Media from the state capture saga and the involvement of the Gupta family in its business affairs.
Manyi said before Afrotone bought the company‚ TNA Media suffered negative publicity and criticism around the relationship between the Gupta family and former president Jacob Zuma.
And as a result of all that negative publicity‚ TNA Media’s business experienced a decline in revenue‚ he said.
Manyi said at the time of Afrotone’s acquisition of TNA Media‚ the newspaper’s revenue for September 2017 increased from R4‚959‚517 to R5‚565‚674.
Manyi said there was a slight decrease in revenue for the next month as a result of various matters related to the transfer of ownership.
He said following clarity by the Competition Commission on October 31 that the proposed merger did not raise any public concerns‚ the newspaper’s revenue for November increased to R5‚697‚332.
Manyi said that between November 2017 and February 2018‚ TNA Media experienced a slight decline in revenue which could be attributed primarily to the decline in advertising revenue over the festive season.
“However‚ during the period February 2018 to June 2018‚ (TNA Media’s) revenue declined from R5‚173‚346 to a mere R255‚565.”
Manyi attributed that decline to government in the Free State and Limpopo formally cancelling their bulk subscription transactions‚ and the suspension of TNA business briefings with the South African Broadcasting Corporation .
He said that despite the best endeavours of Afrotone to distance TNA Media from its past‚ lingering perceptions that TNA Media was still linked to its former owners “unfortunately” remained.
Manyi said in a decisive move to put an end to the negative perceptions that TNA Media was still linked to the Guptas‚ he announced in April 2018 that Afrotone had settled its vendor-financing agreement with Oakbay in full.
“During the aforementioned announcement in the media‚ I specifically expressed the hope that the aforementioned settlement would finally put to rest any suspicions of lingering involvement from either Oakbay Investments (Pty) Ltd or the Gupta family.”
Manyi said he also renamed the newspaper from “The New Age” to “Afro Voice”.