NASPERS FLIPS SWITCH

Financial Mail - - EDITORIALS -

It is tempt­ing to view the pro­posed un­bundling and list­ing of Mul­ti­choice on the JSE as a sign that tech­nol­ogy gi­ant Naspers is fi­nally lis­ten­ing to in­vestor calls to un­lock value.

As welcome as any mea­sure is to re­alise value for in­vestors, there may be other fac­tors that forced Naspers’s hand. The com­pany has over the past few months in­ces­santly moaned about what it termed “un­fair and un­reg­u­lated” com­pe­ti­tion in the form of Net­flix, which has been lur­ing away Dstv sub­scribers to its (much cheaper) stream­ing ser­vice. This made Mul­ti­choice, which had had a monopoly in pay TV un­til tech­nol­ogy in­ter­vened, sound like me­tered taxi op­er­a­tors in the face of Uber.

Dstv has also been los­ing large numbers of sub­scribers as fi­nan­cially de­pressed con­sumers down­graded, or cash-flush cus­tomers em­i­grated from its core SA mar­ket.

Still, in the fi­nal analysis, the Naspers de­ci­sion is to be wel­comed for bring­ing an­other solid, cash-flush and tech­nol­o­gy­driven busi­ness to the JSE.

Mul­ti­choice’s pledge to fur­ther in­crease the BEE ex­po­sure by a fur­ther 5% — at no ad­di­tional cost to the ben­e­fi­cia­ries — will also go a long way to grow­ing and broad­en­ing wealth re­dis­tri­bu­tion in SA. Should this come to pass, the Phuthuma Nathi share­hold­ers will own 25% of Mul­ti­choice.

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