Guptas sells ANN7 TV station to Zuma “ally”

The powerful South African Gupta family is selling its media interests including The New Age newspaper and ANN7 television news station. The buyer, Mzwanele ‘Jimmy’ Manyi, is a long-standing supporter of President Jacob Zuma and was once a government spokesman.

ANN7 was launched in 2013 with 35 percent backing from India’s Essel Group (itself backed by Subhash Chandra), 35 percent by the Gupta family’s investment vehicle, Oakbay Investments.

Zuma has been much-criticised for his alleged links with the Gupta family, while Manyi was a regular guest analyst on ANN7 (Africa News Network).   The total price paid by Manyi is a reported Rand 450 million (about $34m) of which R300 million went for the news channel.

The Gupta family is reportedly in difficulties with South Africa’s bankers. While nobody is saying they are short of cash, there are now five major banks (including India’s Bank of Baroda) which have closed – or “blacklisted” – Gupta accounts pending clarification of their 2016 accounts.

Bloomberg News reports that Manyi is the sole director of Lodidox, his acquisition company.

Manyi is insisting he is not a “front” for the Gupta family despite the local controversy surrounding the deal.  He told South Africa’s African Independent newspaper that the Gupta’s had financed his purchase of the TV station and newspaper under “vendor financing” terms. “This kind of financing is done locally and internationally. It is not unique. But what it does is it shows that the sellers are confident that I’ll be able to pay them back,” he said.

ANN7 is broadcast on Multichoice’s DStv pay-TV service.

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