Johannesburg - Sekunjalo Investment Holdings rebuffed an approach by the Gupta family, which is in business with members of President Jacob Zuma’s family, to take a stake in South Africa’s Independent News & Media group, according to Iqbal Surve, Sekunjalo’s executive-chairman.
Surve said he stopped considering bids from the Guptas and other politically-connected entities when the Public Investment Corp., Africa’s biggest fund manager and part of the group which owns the Independent group of newspapers, objected to any changes in the shareholding.
Sekunjalo now owns Business Report and IOL, among other titles.
“We will not be allowing any other party to come into our consortium,” Surve said in a phone interview from Cape Town today.
“We won’t be selling any of our assets, any of our titles or otherwise.”
A group led by Surve’s Sekunjalo, which includes the PIC, the company that manages the pensions of South African government workers, and the China Development Bank, agreed in February to buy the South African operations of Independent News & Media Plc, Ireland’s biggest newspaper publisher for 2 billion rand ($196 million).
The assets include some of the country’s best-selling daily newspapers, including Johannesburg’s Star and Cape Town’s Cape Times newspapers.
Johannesburg’s Mail & Guardian, which publishes a weekly newspaper often criticised by the government, also approached Sekunjalo unusuccesfully, Surve said.
The Gupta family has hired one of Zuma’s sons, Duduzane, to serve as a director on the boards of their Sahara Computer and Shiva Uranium businesses, while one of Zuma’s wives works for their JIC Mining Services business.
Mandisa Makinana, a personal assistant to Atul Gupta, a senior family member, didn’t immediately respond to a message left at her office.
PIC spokeswoman Namzamo Petje declined to comment and asked for e-mailed questions when called.
* Their New Age daily newspaper was this year criticised by the opposition Democratic Alliance for being paid by government utilities to host events to showcase the companies.
The family also started a 24-hour, Johannesburg-based television news channel last month.
Earlier this year the Gupta’s issued a public apology after an Airbus carrying guests for a wedding of one of their relatives in South Africa landed at the high-security Waterkloof Air Force base near Pretoria, the capital.
The facility is reserved for use by the military and government.
Zuma denied authorising the landing and blamed lower-level officials. - Bloomberg News