CityPress - - Front Page - ABRAM MASHEGO and NTOMBIZODWA MAKHOBA news@city­press.co.za

The Gup­tas’ bank­ing woes are to blame for the fact that their South African of the Year Awards are not go­ing ahead this year. Af­ter the con­tro­ver­sial fam­ily’s busi­nesses were dumped by the coun­try’s four ma­jor banks, they have been re­ceiv­ing as­sis­tance from In­dia’s Bank of Bar­oda.

But now that bank has come un­der in­creas­ing scru­tiny – a fact that City Press has learnt is to blame for the post­pone­ment to next year of the Gupta-owned TV sta­tion ANN7’s glam­orous awards show.

City Press has learnt from two se­nior of­fi­cials at ANN7 that the Bank of Bar­oda re­fused to re­lease funds on time.

“The bank did not re­lease the funds to pay artists and other ex­penses,” said one source.

The awards were go­ing to fea­ture Amer­i­can star Jen­nifer Lopez as the head­line act on Novem­ber 25. Bo­nang Matheba was go­ing to be one of the show’s hosts.

City Press has also learnt that on Fri­day the Gup­tas were forced to can­cel their usu­ally glitzy year-end func­tion, at which they tra­di­tion­ally an­nounce how well they’ve done dur­ing the year.

“The year-end func­tion has been can­celled and the var­i­ous di­vi­sions can de­cide whether they have enough bud­get to hold their own events,” one source said.

An­other em­ployee who is privy to the de­tails said they were also wor­ried whether their salaries would be paid.

“I am wor­ried that I won’t get paid come month’s end. I just want to find a job some­where and leave them,” the em­ployee said.

ANN7 and Gupta hold­ing com­pany Oak­bay did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

On Tues­day, it was an­nounced on the awards’ web­site that the glitzy cer­e­mony was post­poned due to “un­fore­seen reg­u­la­tory cir­cum­stances that have ma­te­ri­ally im­pacted on lo­gis­tics for the event”.

“A new date will be an­nounced in due course. Re­gret­fully, this has left us with no choice but to seek a new date in the near fu­ture. We look for­ward to con­firm­ing a resched­uled date,” ANN7 an­nounced.

How­ever, it is un­clear whether the Gup­tas have lost money by pay­ing a de­posit to se­cure JLo’s ser­vices.

Lopez charges up­wards of $1 mil­lion (R14.3 mil­lion) per per­for­mance.

An in­dus­try source who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, who reg­u­larly books in­ter­na­tional artists, told City Press that Lopez wouldn’t have charged less than R10 mil­lion to per­form.

“There is no way that they can put an in­ter­na­tional star on with­out a clear­ance of 50% of their per­for­mance fee, or the full amount. No in­ter­na­tional artist can avail her­self or him­self for free,” the in­sider said.

“JLo’s man­age­ment won’t re­fund their money – it’s their loss.”

An­other in­dus­try source, who books in­ter­na­tional stars, said in­dus­try prac­tice in­volved pay­ing a min­i­mum of half of the per­for­mance fee up­front, or the full amount.

Al­though Lopez may have re­ceived some cash from ANN7, lo­cal stars have not been so lucky.

TV star Bo­nang Matheba, who was set to be one of the show’s hosts, was se­cured for free.

Sources close to Matheba say she wasn’t paid a de­posit. City Press has learnt that Matheba’s man­age­ment, DNA Brand Ar­chi­tects, sent an in­voice to ANN7, but she hadn’t been paid un­til it was an­nounced this week that the awards were post­poned.

Con­tacted for com­ment on Fri­day, DNA Brand Ar­chi­tects’ Jay Badza would nei­ther con­firm nor deny that Matheba had not been paid, only say­ing “no com­ment”.


HERE’S LOOK­ING AT YOU KID Jen­nifer Lopez per­formed for Hil­lary Clin­ton at the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) con­cert in Mi­ami, Florida, on Oc­to­ber 29

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