Guptas Sell Media Company to Zuma Ally as Bank Accounts Close

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By Gordon Bell
Oakbay Investments, the company controlled by the Gupta family that’s having its last bank accounts closed, agreed to sell its South African media interests to management and an ally of the friends of President Jacob Zuma.

Oakbay will get 300 million rand ($23 million) for Infinity Media, which operates news channel ANN7, and 150 million rand for its two-thirds stake in the publisher of The New Age newspaper, the company said in a statement on Monday. The assets will be sold to management and Lodidox through “vendor financing at acceptable terms,” it said.

The sale may allow the media interests to keep operating after the decision by banks to stop dealing with companies linked to the Guptas, a family who are friends with Zuma and in business with one of his sons. Mzwanele Manyi is the sole director of Lodidox, and was registered as director on June 23, according to company filings. The former government spokesman is a regular political commentator on ANN7 and has been one of the most prominent supporters of the campaign against so-called “white monopoly capital” advocated by Zuma.

Bank of Baroda, the last bank that’s offering services to the Guptas companies, is in the process of closing Oakbay’s accounts after South Africa’s four biggest lenders shut them last year. The Guptas had warned that about 7,500 jobs are at risk should the accounts be closed.

The deal is expected to be concluded in the next “few weeks,” Oakbay said. “The sale will also allow the shareholder the time to focus on clearing its name in the face of unfounded media allegations,” it said.

The New Age and ANN7 have run articles and broadcast programs attacking critics of Zuma including former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

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