MultiChoice Group said on Monday that it is open to US media giant Comcast acquiring a larger stake in its video streaming platform, Showmax.
Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal in the US and Sky in the UK, last year acquired a 30% stake in Showmax for an undisclosed sum. NBCUniversal has been instrumental in the relaunch of Showmax, details of which were also unveiled on Monday, with the platform utilising the same technology that underpins Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming offering.
Asked by TechCentral whether in terms of the agreement between MultiChoice and Comcast, the US firm can increase its stake in Showmax, Mawela said: “Absolutely!” He added that such an arrangement is not precluded under the terms of their deal. “They decided to take 30% to start with, but who knows what the future holds?”
Asked whether Comcast could increase its stake to more than 50% in Showmax, effectively taking control of the business, Mawela declined to “speculate”, but said: “Everything we do is in the interests of our shareholders. If someone wants to make an offer, the board has a fiduciary duty to consider it… Let’s leave it at that; our responsibility is to our shareholders.”
Comcast isn’t the only international media giant interested in MultiChoice’s growth potential. France’s Canal+, which is owned by media giant Vivendi Group, has acquired a “passive” 31.7% stake in MultiChoice. It acquired the shares in the group, which is listed on the JSE, in the open market.
“They are passive shareholders, just like all other shareholders,” said Mawela on Canal+’s investment, which it built up over a number of years. He added that Canal+ had no direct involvement in the development of the new Showmax platform and that MultiChoice had no duty to confer with the company before engaging with other broadcasters, including Comcast and its subsidiaries, on its development.
“We have a relationship where we talk from time to time,” he explained. “This strategy [for Showmax] was developed by management and the board… It has to remain like that until such time as something changes from a strategic perspective… We need to put our heads down, do the work and make sure we run a successful, sustainable business so shareholders can benefit from that.” — © 2024 NewsCentral Media