Reports that leading index provider MSCI is targeting companies with voting rights that favour select shareholders should worry almost every South African. MSCI is reported to be considering reducing the weighting of companies that have unequal voting shares. The company that springs to mind is Naspers, which is controlled through a structure that was put in place when the company was listed in the 1990s. Far from being relaxed over the years, that structure was tightened after Jannie Mouton launched an almost successful bid for control in 2005. Unlisted A shares, which are held by a select group of parties, have 1,000 times the voting rights that listed N shares enjoy. This means Naspers’s control position is unassailable. And it’s probably just the sort of place that a powerful Chinese company would be reasonably happy to rest a holding of 34%. The long relationship with chairman Koos Bekker must also help. The fuss about Naspers’s control structure is understandable. It goes agai...

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