CAPE TOWN - Independent Media has said that it was well ahead of schedule with the repayment of its debt to the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).

The group said it had already made a sizeable capital repayment early in the investment phase.

It said it had also serviced interest payments to its other minority shareholder, Interacom, amounting to more than R380 million, since acquisition. 

Group executive chairman Dr Iqbal Survé said the attacks on Independent Media were designed to stop meaningful transformation in the media industry and prevent black people from accessing capital markets. 

“It is so obvious that the competitors wish to sabotage the successful listing of Sagarmatha Technologies and the inclusion of Independent Media,” said Survé. 

“At a time when we are trying to attract investment into South Africa, they are actively discouraging this investment with strong racial and ethnic undertones.”

The statement comes in the wake of media reports that the much talked about JSE listing of Sagarmatha Technologies – which will have an interest in Independent Media post-acquisition on the listing date – is meant to raise money to repay the media entity’s debt to the PIC and other creditors.

Survé said Independent was not obliged to disclose its financials as it was a private company. 

“The JSE listing and Sagarmatha Technologies’ subsequent acquisition of Independent Media changes this,” he added.

“Although there was no requirement to pay the 50 percent until September 2018, Sekunjalo and Independent Media have accelerated the repayments.”  

Independent Media was a shareholder of Sagarmatha Technologies and would benefit financially from the listing. 

“Sekunjalo put up all the money to modernise what was essentially a legacy media house when it took over Independent Media… This is value that was added by Sekunjalo after the previous owners disbanded the printing operations in Johannesburg,” it said.

The media entity said Sekunjalo had funded these improvements for the benefit of all the investors and shareholders, and for the employees who worked within these structures.
“The reality is that Independent Media has benefited at no cost to anyone else other than Sekunjalo, who has solely invested in the modernisation of the business. 

“It has moved from a legacy print business to an advanced content technology business that consistently wins global awards for its innovation,” the company said.

Independent Media reiterated that it carried no bank loans and that all its debt was to shareholders who had a vested interest in the long-term success of the business. 
Shareholder debt is generally the most junior debt in a company.

- BUSINESS REPORT