Just a day after it was revealed that a consortium led by MSG Afrika, backed with funding from MultiChoice, was making a bid to buy troubled pay-television operator TopTV, it has emerged that a second company, Wananchi Group, has submitted an expression of interest of its own.
TopTV is owned by On Digital Media (ODM), which was placed into “business rescue” under the Companies Act in October 2012.
ODM creditors and shareholders were told at a meeting in Sandton on Tuesday that Wananchi, which offers a triple-play product of broadband, pay-TV and voice-over-Internet protocol services in markets in East Africa, has submitted a proposal to invest in and turn around the company. The meeting had been called to vote on a proposal from China’s StarTimes to buy a stake in ODM.
Established in 2008, Wananchi Group describes itself as East Africa’s “leading home entertainment operator”. It operates under the Zuku brand. It describes its triple-play platform as the foundation of its home entertainment strategy. Construction of its network began in 2009, with plans to cover major cities in the region with triple-play infrastructure.
The company also offers a direct-to-home satellite pay-TV service, similar to the one offered by TopTV, under the Zuku TV brand. “It has successfully launched in Kenya and Uganda and will be rolling out aggressively to Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and Zambia in coming months,” it says on its website.
In Kenya, Zuku offers a premium package of more than 60 English-language channels, including 10 movie, four sports, five general entertainment and six documentary channels, for Ks1 999/month (R214/month).
Wananchi has lined up American financial backers behind its expression of interest in ODM. As with the StarTimes offer, its bid would leave the majority of TopTV shares in black control.
The development comes a day after news emerged that MultiChoice, which owns TopTV rival DStv, had agreed to back a bid by a broad-based consortium wanting to buy into ODM to the tune of R500m. The consortium is led by businessmen Given Mkhari of MSG Afrika and Malose Kekana of Falk Trading.
The consortium, called Dynamic TV, said it approached MultiChoice South Africa for “enterprise development support to ensure the commercial sustainability of ODM”. MultiChoice agreed to provide the loan at a meeting of its board of directors last week.
MSG already owns other media assets, including radio station Capricorn FM, which broadcasts to audiences in Limpopo, and Power 98.9 FM, a talk radio station to be launched soon in Gauteng. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media
- Developing story … more to follow