Johannesburg - Multichoice, the pay-TV subsidiary of listed media group Naspers, would pay out R900 million in ordinary and special dividends to black shareholders who had subscribed to the company’s two empowerment schemes, it said yesterday.
Nolo Letele, the executive chairman of MultiChoice South Africa Holdings, said ordinary dividends had more than tripled from 43.3c a share when the scheme was launched six years ago to R1.4222 a share this year.
“With this year’s special dividend, Phuthuma Nathi shareholders have, to date, received R6.88 a share,” Letele added.
The Phuthuma Nathi companies will receive an ordinary dividend of R480m for the year, compared with R400m paid last year, and a special dividend of R420m.
The payout was approved at the Phuthuma Nathi annual general meeting on Wednesday.
Next Wednesday the 120 000 shareholders, who include general workers, gardeners, teachers and small businesses, will be paid R2.6666 a share before tax.
The taxman will claim 15 percent of this amount.
Phuthuma Nathi Investments was launched as a broad-based black economic empowerment initiative in 2006. It was oversubscribed by three times and was followed up with Phuthuma Nathi Investments 2 in February 2007, which was also oversubscribed.
The Phuthuma Nathi shareholders collectively own 20 percent of MultiChoice, whose DStv brand is the dominant subscription-based television broadcaster in South Africa and in parts of the rest of the continent, where it faces allegations of anti-competitive behaviour from rivals.
Phuthuma Nathi bought its MultiChoice stake at R50 a share in 2006. The scheme funded its investment by selling its shares at R10 a share to black citizens.
It issued preference shares at R40 each to MIH, a holding company that aggregates all Naspers’s media assets except the print business in Africa.
The special dividend has been paid to reduce the debt.
If MultiChoice continued to perform well and to pay dividends, the preference share debt to MIH would be paid off soon and the size of dividends would consequently increase, Letele said.
The initial debt was R40 a share, or R2.7 billion. The outstanding debt is approximately R8 a share, or R514m.
Phuthuma Nathi shares began trading publicly on December 8, 2011. The trading platform for Phuthuma Nathi had hosted more than 16 000 deals to date, representing a volume of 10.9 million shares traded, the company said.
Mandla Langa, the chairman of the Phuthuma Nathi companies, said more than 87 percent of shareholders had retained their shares since joining the scheme.
The shares closed at R102 on Monday.
In July, MTN’s R8.2bn Zakhele broad-based empowerment scheme announced it had handsomely rewarded investors and increased the payout ratio to 72 percent by September last year, based on the parent’s growth trajectory.
The scheme began settling part of the debt from September last year, with cash from dividends received on its underlying 4 percent stake in MTN. - Business Report