Naspers says it is probing MultiChoice’s ANN7 contract
It will assess whether there have been any governance failures and whether the amount paid is in line with payments to other locally produced TV stations
Naspers pay-TV unit MultiChoice started an investigation into whether there was any evidence of wrongdoing regarding its contract with ANN7, the 24-hour news channel formerly owned by the politically connected Gupta family.
Africa’s biggest company by market value was responding to allegations that MultiChoice had a corrupt relationship with ANN7, which Gupta-controlled Oakbay Investments sold along with other South African media interests earlier this year.
"These allegations have negatively impacted the reputation of MultiChoice," Don Eriksson, chairman of the unit’s risk and audit committees, said in an e-mailed statement on Friday.
The probe threatens to embroil Cape Town-based Naspers in the scandal surrounding the Guptas, who are accused of using their friendship with President Jacob Zuma to win lucrative state contracts and influence ministerial appointments.
Auditor KPMG, German software provider SAP, consultancy McKinsey and UK public relations firm Bell Pottinger have all investigated work done for the family, which in all cases was found to have breached corporate governance standards to various degrees.
The Guptas and Zuma deny any wrongdoing.
"The MultiChoice board needs to look into the contracts," Naspers chief financial officer Basil Sgourdos said in an phone interview earlier this week. "We do not think it is trivial and we would like the board to look into it and make sure that due process was followed."
MultiChoice, which owns DStv, Africa’s biggest pay-TV provider, will assess whether there have been any governance failures regarding the relationship with ANN7. It will also examine whether the amount paid to the channel is in line with that made to other locally produced TV stations, "with due consideration being given to the estimated costs of running a 24-hour news channel".
Naspers shares fell 3.4% to R3,561.51 as of 11.53am on the JSE, valuing the company at R1.57-trillion.