Johannesburg - Primedia Broadcasting CEO Terry Volkwyn resigned on Monday amid continuing minority shareholder dissatisfaction with the planned takeover of the company by the Times Media Group (TMG).
Volkwyn said she would step down at the end of June.
Primedia group CEO Roger Jardine could not expand on reasons for Volkwyn’s decision to quit after 30 years of service.
Jardine said that Volkwyn would become the chairwoman of Primedia Broadcasting from January and would be replaced by Omar Essack, the deputy group chief executive at Kagiso Media in February.
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“Terry will take on the role of chairperson of Primedia Broadcasting from January 1, and work with Omar on a smooth handover until her departure at the end of June 2017,” Jardine said.
“Terry’s absence will be profoundly felt. However, after 30 years of dedication to Primedia Broadcasting she deserves the rejuvenation that comes with time out and fresh opportunities.”
Last month Business Report reported on minority shareholder dissatisfaction over pending talk that TMG was planning to acquire the advertising and communications company for an undisclosed amount of money.
In March Primedia announced that it had sold its 365 Digital and Dash Of Lime businesses to digital media sales company Mark1 Media for an undisclosed fee.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which owns a 100 percent of the Mineworkers Investment Company (MIC), blamed the union’s investment arm for putting financial interests first.
NUM general secretary David Sipunzi said the union’s opposition to the MIC plans fell on deaf ears.
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Sipunzi said the union, through MIC, had decided to venture into the media space to promote media diversity.
“We were made to understand that Primedia was loss-making. We could see that the MIC had the intention to offload its interest in Primedia. We do not know why. It may be to spite the NUM’s new leadership,” he said.
Volkwyn first joined the company as a direct account executive at Talk Radio 702 in 1986 and was influential in making every single brand in her stable a leader and game changer, including 947, 702, Cape Talk, KFM, Lead SA and Eyewitness News Service.
In addition to radio stations, Primedia also owned the cinema chain Ster-Kinekor, the largest movie exhibitors for Africa, with sites in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, as well as Zambia.
Lobby group Media Monitoring Africa director William Bird said on Monday that the timing of the resignation was interesting.
Bird said that Volkwyn had managed to steer Primedia through a difficult time.
“For her to announce her resignation now raises the question of why now rather than when the sale has gone through,” Bird said.
“Her resignation is much like the resignation of Whitey Basson, the chief executive at Shoprite, who was with the company for more than 40 years. Her loss will be felt in different sectors.
“In 30 years you cannot say she has not made an impact in the industry, especially being a woman in that environment. She would leave a powerful legacy.”
Bird previously raised the lobby group’s concern that talk of TMG’s acquisition of Primedia would concentrate media ownership in South Africa even further.
The National Broadcasters’ executive director, Nadia Bulbulia, acknowledged yesterday Volkwyn’s “remarkable” contribution to the country’s broadcasting industry.
Bulbulia said Volkwyn had played a remarkable role in the broadcasting industry and her resignation would be a significant loss.
“There are lots of shifts [happening] in the media industry,” Bulbulia said.