Naspers, one of the largest technology investors in the world, will list it’s pay TV unit MultiChoice on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) on February 27.
The company includes MultiChoice South Africa, MultiChoice Africa and Showmax. Naspers originally announced its intention to list last September.
The move means Naspers shareholders will now hold a direct interest in MultiChoice rather than through Africa’s most valuable company.
Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk said: “Listing MultiChoice Group via an unbundling aims to unlock value for Naspers shareholders and at the same time create an empowered, top-40-JSE-listed African entertainment company.
“With strong financials, the flexibility of an ungeared balance sheet and deep local knowledge, we hope to deliver excellent returns to shareholders over time,” added group CEO Calvo Mawela.
Africa’s largest pay TV operator MultiChoice has called for regulations to be imposed on Netflix as it blames the US-based streaming service for the subscriber losses it has suffered since 2017.
As a result of Netflix’s popularity among African viewers, pay TV companies MultiChoice and StarTimes are experiencing serious challenges to their business models and revenue streams.
In a recent report by Quartz Africa, Calvo Mawela, CEO of MultiChoice, said his company had lost over 140,000 subscribers to Netflix, including 100,000 in the past financial year. The streaming service, he said, is also free from any affirmative action regulations, which gives the US firm a major advantage.
Even though pay TV companies are already competing with local streaming platforms like Iroko, Netflix’s plan to focus more on Nollywood and African content is set to create another area of competition for these companies in 2019.
Netflix’s VP of international originals Erik Barmack told C21Media’s Content London conference in November that the streamer’s European team is “in the process of looking at opportunities in Africa. It’s definitely the case that we’ll commission some series there in 2019.”
In an article by Business Insider magazine, Netflix said: “The company is following Nollywood closely and focusing more on content. There are no plans to have a physical office in Nigeria. We are following the local industry closely and focusing more on content rather than physical presence.”
While pay TV companies work on having better streaming services and pricey data plans, Netflix has deployed a dedicated server in Nigeria in partnership with Spectranet in order to have a secure connection for its Nigerian audiences and also provide customers in Nigeria with a better video-streaming performance.
Despite the fact Nigerian movies such as Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart, Kunle Afolayan’s October 1st and Biyi Bandele’s Fifty are available on Netflix, thus creating competition in the Nigerian market, all hope is not lost for MultiChoice. The South African company still has three of its indigenous African Magic stations on DSTV, namely Africa Magic Yoruba, Africa Magic Hausa and Africa Magic Igbo.
Although the competition would impact viewers across Nigeria, perhaps leading to possible lower subscription fees for streaming and TV content packages, it will now be a fight between four major contenders: MultiChoice, StarTimes, Iroko and Netflix.
Naspers, one of the largest technology investors in the world, has announced the new executive leadership team for its MultiChoice Group.
The new execs include Calvo Mawela as group CEO, Imtiaz Patel as executive chairman, Tim Jacobs as chief financial officer and Brand de Villiers as chief operating officer. The appointments will take effect on November 1.
Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk said: “This announcement marks a significant step for the MultiChoice Group as they journey towards a stand-alone business. I am confident that through the leadership of Imtiaz and Calvo, MultiChoice Group will continue on its growth trajectory and unlock even more value for its shareholders.”
Calvo said: “I am incredibly excited to lead our team of highly capable executives through this new and exciting chapter for our company. Our leadership team is diverse, experienced and well-positioned to grow our position as the leading entertainment company on the African continent.
“There are significant growth opportunities for MultiChoice Group in Africa. The combination of MultiChoice’s reach, Showmax and DStv Now’s cutting-edge internet television service, alongside Irdeto’s 360 security suite will provide a unique offering.”
On September 17, Naspers had made its intention to separately list its video entertainment business on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and will include MultiChoice South Africa, MultiChoice Africa, Showmax Africa and Irdeto.
MultiChoice Group is one of the fastest growing pay TV operators in the world and its multi-platform business reaches 13.5 million households across Africa.