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Shares of Naspers, South Africa’s largest media group, jumped 4 per cent on Tuesday on news of a hostile bid for a strategic stake that analysts said could expose it to a foreign takeover.
A consortium led by PSG Capital, a local financial services group, bid 50 cents a share for Keeromstraat, which controls a 22 per cent voting stake of the company.
The bid, if successful, would unravel a shareholders’ structure aimed at thwarting potential buyers. It has excited market speculation that Naspers, which has a market capitalisation of about R34bn ($5.5bn), could become an acquisition target for a foreign media group.
Jannie Mouton, PSG’s chairman, said this week that he wanted to call a meeting of Naspers’ shareholders to discuss the matter.
A spokesman for Naspers declined to comment yesterday, but said the bid was “a matter for Keeromstraat’s board to discuss”.
Naspers, based in Cape Town, publishes the Daily Sun, South Africa’s largest-circulation newspaper, and owns DStv, Africa’s biggest pay-TV franchise. It also has a 9.9 per cent stake in China’s Beijing Media Corp and last month said it
was considering further investments in China and India.
Unlisted and illiquid Keeromstraat is controlled by about 3,000 private investors. The group owns only about 0.02 per cent of Naspers, but owns high-
voting ‘A’ shares giving it a 22 per cent control of the company.
South Africa’s isolation from the world market under apartheid kept media, like many other industries, relatively insulated from foreign advances or competition.
Independent Newspapers of the UK publishes a South African Sunday newspaper and several regional titles.
Pearson, the company that owns the Financial Times, is part of a 50:50 joint venture that publishes Business Day and the Financial Mail, two leading business publications.
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