Ann Crotty Writer-at-large
Ian Kirk. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS
Ian Kirk. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS

As calls mount for a public inquiry into the controversial relationship between Naspers subsidiary Multichoice and the SABC, insurer Sanlam said it was not in a position to comment on the merits of any allegation as it was not involved in the day-to-day running of Naspers or its subsidiaries.

"As a responsible citizen, Sanlam will monitor any investigations into these allegations and decide on the appropriate course of action as a shareholder, if any, once a due process is completed at Naspers," said Sanlam CEO Ian Kirk.

Sanlam is one of the most powerful shareholders in Naspers’s opaque control structure, which includes listed low-voting N shares and unlisted high-voting A shares.

Deon Botha, head of corporate affairs at the Public Investment Corporation, said the PIC was committed to the highest standards of corporate governance and expected the same commitment from all investee companies.

The PIC is the largest holder of the listed N shares with a stake of just under 14% worth about R250bn. It is the PIC’s largest single equity investment and accounts for 12% of the PIC’s total funds under management.

On Thursday, Botha said the PIC had learnt of Multichoice’s alleged payments to the SABC through media reports. The PIC was planning to engage with Naspers "to fully understand the circumstances surrounding these allegations".

Multichoice executive chairman Nolo Letele hit back on Thursday at what he described as the "disparaging publicity" relating to the minutes of a June 2013 meeting between Multichoice and the SABC.

Letele said there was nothing untoward and no "kickbacks" involved in the contract that was subsequently drawn up.

"It was just normal commercial negotiation."

The headline "Sanlam washes hands of Naspers dispute" on a story carried in the Friday December 1 print edition of Business Day incorrectly stated that 'Sanlam washed its hands of Naspers’ dispute. The story reported Sanlam as a responsible citizen and as a major shareholder in Naspers was monitoring the situation and would decide on the appropriate course of action once a due process was completed.

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