SOUTH AFRICA – Tiso Blackstar Group, the publisher of Business Day, the Sunday Times, Sowetan and other titles, has sold its print, broadcasting and content businesses in South Africa, Ghana and Kenya to Lebashe Investment Group for US$74.54 million (R1.05bn). 

Tiso Blackstar said the sale, which is subject to regulatory and other approvals, will unlock significant value for its shareholders “while also ensuring that the media business has a strong and committed shareholder in Lebashe to take it forward”.

The sale, which excludes Gallo Music Group and Tiso’s South African radio assets, comes mere days after the group sold the Sunday World newspaper to Fundudzi Media, owned by David Mabilu.

Tiso will retain ownership in multi-channel marketing and communication solutions business Hirt & Carter (H&C) and the Gallo Music Group. 

“Lebashe will ensure continuity of the business with the retention of key management and has confidence that the current business strategy is sound and viable,” Tiso Blackstar said. 

Lebashe’s chair Tshepo Mahloele said: “The transaction complements our current portfolio and growth trajectory. We anticipate that our newly acquired media assets will play a critical role in our ambition to create a significant investment company on the continent.”

“While the media industry in general is undergoing disruption, we believe that the assets we are acquiring are generating sustainable revenues to withstand the change in the medium term.

It is our plan to support the editorial team with an advisory council made up of eminent local and international persons. Our long-term approach to investing will also enable us to focus on growth of quality journalism.”

Tiso Blackstar Group CEO Andrew Bonamour said: “We have worked hard to ensure we modernise the media business from its legacy structures into an agile and forward-looking company with a sustainable future. This is a perfect opportunity for a new owner to take it to greater heights.” 

Lebashe is an unlisted investment holding company focusing on financial services and ICT, among other sectors.

The company has grown significantly since inception and holds stakes in various well-known businesses, such as Capitec, EOH and RainFin.

The majority of funds received for the South Africa operations will be used to reduce the Tiso Blackstar debt to appropriate levels that will allow further growth of H&C as the core operation, reports Business Day.

The deal will be done in two phases with South Africa operations in one and the Africa operations in the other. 

Tiso Blackstar expects the sale of the South Africa assets to become commercially effective by the end of November.