Independent News and Media South African Unit Bids Hamper Sale

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VENTURES AFRICA – The Independent News & Media Group has failed to receive satisfactory offers for the sale of its South African unit, with most bids coming in up to 100 million Euros ($ 133 million) less than expected.

The Ireland-based publishing company has received offers in the region of 150 million Euros ($ 199.5 million) for the South African business, according to the Sunday Business Post, although falling significantly short of the price the company had expected to see.

The company had thought that the South African unit would sell for an amount nearing 250 million euros ($332.6 million), particularly considering the extensive efforts that have been put into restructuring the company over recent years in order to respond to increasing debt levels and a challenging trading environment.

Of note, the publishing group sold its key asset, UK-focused newspaper the Independent to Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev for £1 ($1.58) in 2010, due to the substantial losses accrued.

The group currently derives two-thirds of its revenue from UK-based activities, with the remaining proportion of revenue coming from the South African unit.

Reports suggest that at least two bidders remain committed to acquiring the South African business, and the company may have to revise its target selling price following the offers received – although the media group has indicated that it is willing to wait in order to achieve a higher sale price through a later bidder.

According to the Irish newspaper the Sunday Business Post, the main bidder still in the running is the Sekunjalo consortium. Run by Iqbal Surve – the Sekunjalo group focuses on investing in the areas of technology, telecoms, marine, health and strategic and private equity projects, with Sekunjalo Investment Limited listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.