Canal+ dramatically ups its stake in MultiChoice

France’s Canal+, which has steadily been buying shares in MultiChoice Group since 2020, has significantly increased its stake in the South African-headquartered pay-television operator.

In a regulatory filing on Wednesday, JSE-listed MultiChoice said Groupe Canal+ has increased its stake from the 20.1% disclosed in July to 26.26% now.

The move again raises questions about Canal+’s ultimate intentions, specifically whether it plans to make an offer to MultiChoice’s minorities – a move that could be difficult to execute given South Africa’s restrictions around the foreign ownership of broadcasters.

“MultiChoice remains committed to acting in the best interests of all shareholders and to create sustainable, long-term shareholder value. While the group regularly engages investors and maintains an open dialogue with the investment community, its policy is not to comment on its individual shareholders nor on its interactions with them,” the pay-TV operator said, repeating an earlier statement about Canal+’s share purchases.

Canal+ began buying shares in MultiChoice in 2020. MultiChoice disclosed in July this year that the French company, which has pay-TV operations in francophone Africa that largely complement MultiChoice’s African footprint, had increased its stake to just over 20%. Its previous disclosure was in November 2021, when it said the French group had bought 15.4% of its ordinary shares in issue.

Canal+ is owned by French media conglomerate Vivendi.

When Canal+ began buying up MultiChoice shares in 2020, it prompted speculation about the company’s intentions. It also fuelled a sharp rally in MultiChoice’s share price at the time. MultiChoice first disclosed on 5 October 2020 that Canal+ had acquired 6.5% of its equity.

‘A responsibility’

“Whether it’s Canal+ or someone else, we have a responsibility as directors of the company to do what is in the best interests of shareholders,” MultiChoice Group chief financial officer Jacobs told TechCentral in an interview in November 2020.

“Whatever opportunity comes our way, we will try to keep an open mind. We will certainly look at it and say, ‘Is this is in the best interest of shareholders or not?’ If it is, we’d need to embrace it and make the best deal we can for shareholders,” Jacobs said.

Canal+ previously told MultiChoice that it views the stake as a financial investment. The two companies have worked together for years, sharing content between their respective markets. “We have an ongoing relationship with them in various territories,” Jacobs said at the time.  – © 2022 NewsCentral Media

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