TopTV sale to become court drama

A decision made this week to see South Africa’s TopTV sold to China-backed StarTimes group is likely to be challenged in the courts. Multichoice-backed consortium Dynamic TV, which submitted its own robust and well-funded take-over bid for TopTV on April 29, had tried to block the shareholder vote on April 30th and saying that they were prepared to start funding a restructured TopTV “immediately”.

“MultiChoice undertakes to unconditionally provide funding to Dynamic TV for a total of R30m to be utilised to fund the monthly operational expenses of (TopTV owner) On Digital Media (ODM), until the Dynamic TV business rescue plan, as proposed, is adopted or rejected by the creditor and shareholders of ODM,” read the letter, signed by MultiChoice CEO Imtiaz Patel.

Answering the challenge that any Multichoice-backed bid would risk falling foul of South Africa’s monopoly rules, Multichoice said: “Our proposal has been structured on the basis that it will not contravene South African broadcasting legislation or licence conditions of ODM or the company. We can assure all interested parties that we will ensure that neither the funder, MultiChoice SA, nor its affiliates exercise any form of control whatsoever in relation to the operations of ODM or its shareholders.”

The court-appointed liquidation specialist Peter van den Steen rejected the proposed Multichoice/Dynamic TV bid and proceeded to approve the transfer of ODM/TopTV’s assets to StarTimes.

Van den Steen said on May 1st that any group had the right to challenge his decision but they should act speedily.

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