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Multichoice Group Profit Dips, Plans Showmax-Comcast Platform Launch Early 2024

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Multichoice Group, South African pay TV company has reported a 5 per cent drop in half-year profit, hit by weaker currencies in several markets, losses at its Showmax streaming business and a lower contribution from its home country.

Multichoice Group Profit Dips, Plans Showmax-Comcast Platform Launch Early 2024

The only real bright spot in MultiChoice’s financial results between April and September was that it added DStv Premium subscribers for the first time “in many years”, according to Moneyweb

This was very likely entirely due to the Rugby World Cup in France, which kicked off in September – such is the power of the Springboks.

Key will be whether MultiChoice manages to hold on to any of these probably ‘temporary’ subscribers.

The group, whose pay-TV business operates in 50 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, said it made core headline earnings of 1.9 billion rand ($105 million) in the six months ended Sept. 30, down from 2 billion rand last year, according to Reuters.

Coming off high growth linked to the soccer World Cup in the previous six months, overall 90-day active subscriber numbers fell 2% to 21.7 million, with a 5% drop in South Africa due to power cuts and the removal of non-revenue generating customers.

However, the number of premium customers in South Africa rose 5%, supported by the recent Rugby World Cup.

Overall group revenue rose 4% on an underlying basis to 28.3 billion rand, but was down 1% on a reported basis due to weaker local currencies and pressure on consumer spending.

Subscription revenues rose an underlying 3% due to strong growth in the rest of Africa and the Showmax streaming service.

Reuters  reported that MultiChoice has been investing billions of rand to fight off competition from streaming giants Netflix (NFLX.O), Amazon (AMZN.O) and Disney (DIS.N).

In the reporting period the group increased its spending on local content by 16% year-on-year.

The group said Showmax’s partnership with U.S. media conglomerate Comcast (CMCSA.O) was preparing to launch a new platform later in its financial year.

“This service … will enable MultiChoice to double its customer base and deliver an additional $1 billion revenue in the medium term,” the company said.

Showmax saw its active subscriber base increase by 13%, resulting in revenues surging 46%. However, higher operating costs due to investments resulted in trading losses rising by 500 million rand to 800 million rand.


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Climate Action Africa Calls for Broader Stakeholder Collaboration to Address Nigeria’s Climate Crisis

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Climate Action Africa (CAA), a leading advocate for climate resilience and sustainable development in Nigeria, has called for a more impactful and inclusive approach to tackling the country’s pressing climate challenges. This was the focus of the climate change media briefing held in Lagos, Nigeria, today.

With Nigeria facing significant vulnerability to rising temperatures, erratic weather patterns, and environmental degradation, CAA emphasizes the need for a united front across all stakeholder groups. Developing countries like Nigeria, and many others across Africa, face unique sets of challenges when it comes to climate change.

“Nigeria’s unique position and vast resources necessitate a comprehensive strategy that leverages the expertise and commitment of every sector,” says Grace Oluchi Mbah, Co-Founder and Executive Director at Climate Action Africa.

“From government and industry leaders to scientists, community organizations, and individual citizens, we all have a role to play in building a more resilient and sustainable future.”

The importance of fostering collaboration in areas like policy development and implementation, innovation and technology, community mobilization and education, and investment and financing were highlighted during the media briefing. These are the challenges that the Climate Action Africa Forum 2024 (CAAF24) is set to address.

The upcoming Climate Action Africa Forum (CAAF24), scheduled for June 19-20 in Lagos, serves as a testament to CAA’s commitment to fostering collaboration. The forum will bring together key stakeholders from across Africa to discuss innovative solutions and develop concrete action plans for tackling climate change.

The forum will introduce the Deal Room, a dynamic marketplace connecting Africa’s brightest innovators with forward-thinking investors to accelerate impactful deals for climate action and sustainable development. Following the conference, CAA will partner with Silicon Valley based Founder Institute, the world’s largest startup accelerator to provide ongoing support to African innovators in a post accelerator programme.

“CAAF24 provides a valuable platform for knowledge sharing, collaborative problem-solving, and forging strategic partnerships,” says Mbah. “By working together, we can ensure that Nigeria, and Africa as a whole, emerges as a leader in building a sustainable and climate-resilient future.”

Climate Action Africa urges all stakeholders to take a proactive stance in addressing the climate crisis. Through collaborative efforts, innovation, and a shared commitment to a sustainable future, Nigeria can mitigate the impact of climate change and pave the way for a more prosperous and resilient tomorrow.


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Breaking…..CANAL+, MultiChoice Finalize and Agree to Buyout Offer

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CANAL+ has made a mandatory offer to acquire all the issued shares of the MultiChoice Group it doesn’t already own for $1.9 billion.

Breaking.....CANAL+, MultiChoice Finalize and Agree to Buyout Offer

CANAL+ was required to make the offer after acquiring 35 percent ownership of the company, now offering $6.70 per share, exceeding the regulatory minimum price of $5.63.

The two companies have entered an agreement for the mandatory offer, and MultiChoice shareholders will gain significant value for their shares, constituting a 66.66 percent premium to the closing price of $$4.02 on February 1, the last trading day prior to the delivery of CANAL+’s non-binding indicative offer.

The offer is conditional on customary regulatory conditions and will comply with all other relevant regulatory requirements.

CANAL+’s ambition is to build a global entertainment leader with Africa at its heart that will support the commercial development of Africa’s sporting and cultural industries and bring authentic African stories to global audiences.

“Following constructive engagement with MultiChoice, we are pleased to have issued a joint firm intention announcement to make an offer today, representing a significant premium for the shareholders of MultiChoice,” said Maxime Saada, chairman and CEO of CANAL+ Group.

“CANAL+ is confident in making this offer—at a level which far exceeds the minimum required by regulation—due to the incredible future we believe that CANAL+ and MultiChoice can build together.

“Through combining our companies, we will be well positioned to invest even more in local productions and sports content, supporting the world-leading and vibrant creative ecosystem on the African continent and all over the world, and producing even more high-quality and compelling local stories. The complementary geographies, considerable scale and strengthened capabilities achieved by the combination of these two great companies will ensure that Africa can tell her own stories on her own terms both locally and globally.

“We are excited about these opportunities, which will be supported by further investment in technology, including the continued offering of a leading satellite service and rolling out more innovative streaming products.”


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Multichoice Nigeria Reportedly Defrauded of N7.9Bn

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Multichoice Nigeria Limited, owners of DStv and GOtv, popular cable television services was allegedly defrauded of the total sum of N7.9 billion.

Multichoice Nigeria Reportedly Defrauded of N7.9Bn

Premium Times citing court documents reported that the botched foreign currency exchange transaction involved Akintunde Giwa, a currency exchange broker; JNFX Limited, a currency exchange firm; Ashay Mervyn, a representative of JNFX, and Frontier Financial Technologies Limited.

Mr Giwa is a currency exchange broker who earns a commission by assisting those looking to buy US dollars with Nigerian Naira. JNFX is a private limited company incorporated in England and engaged in foreign exchange and international money transfer business.

Frontier Financial Technologies Limited is a Nigerian company where Mr Mervyn is a director, court documents showed.

The case was brought before Stuart Isaacs, who sat as a Deputy Judge of the High Court, in the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales.

The judgment was delivered remotely to the parties’ representatives by e-mail and released to the National Archives on 2 April.

While the claimant, Mr Giwa, was represented by Matthew Bradley and Rumen Cholakov as instructed by Peters & Peters Solicitors LLP, Joseph Wigley (instructed by Cooke, Young & Keidan LLP) appeared on behalf of the first defendant, JNFX Limited.

Mr Mervyn and Frontier Financial Technologies Limited – listed as second and fourth defendants, respectively – had no representatives in the case.

The claim against the third defendant, JNFX Nigeria Limited, was discontinued and the company was excluded from the judgment.

Botched Contract

Premium Times review of court documents showed that MultiChoice Nigeria had engaged Mr Giwa and his companies for many years to arrange the exchange of Naira for dollars in connection with MultiChoice Nigeria’s business.

According to Mr Giwa, he acted on Multichoice Nigeria’s behalf in arranging with JNFX, under 10 Multichoice contracts, for the exchange of Naira into dollars.

In the proceedings at the UK court, MultiChoice Nigeria assigned its claims to Mr Giwa, whose primary dealings with JNFX were conducted with Mr Mervyn, a representative of JNFX “who had ostensible if not actual authority from JNFX to enter into the MultiChoice Contracts.”

Court documents showed that Multichoice Nigeria Limited paid N7.9 billion (N7,914,209.196.50) to Mr Giwa, the currency exchange broker, who in turn made payments to JNFX Limited, a currency exchange firm, under the MultiChoice contracts.

Details showed that the satellite service company paid the Naira into the bank accounts of companies controlled by Mr Giwa and were then sent to bank accounts nominated by JNFX through Mr Mervyn in return for dollars to be paid into an account held at Standard Chartered Bank in London in the name of MultiChoice Africa, another company within the MultiChoice group of companies.

However, no dollar payments (amounting to $16.2 million) were received by the company in return, according to Mr Giwa.

Backend Details

From early 2021, court documents show, Mr Mervyn increasingly instructed Mr Giwa to send the Naira to a bank account held at First City Monument Bank in Nigeria in the name of Frontier Limited.

Mr Giwa alleged that JNFX and Mr Mervyn failed to pay into the MultiChoice Account the full equivalent dollar sums or to reimburse MultiChoice Nigeria its Naira. A total of N7.9 billion (N7,914,209.196.50) was paid to JNFX under the MultiChoice contracts for which no dollar payments (amounting to $16,230,369) were received in return.

The tenth and last contract, concluded on 8 September 2021, provided for the conversion of N4.9 billion into $10 million but no dollar sum was paid in return for the Naira amount paid.

Meanwhile, the court documents showed that Mr Mervyn and Frontier, a Nigerian company where Mr Mervyn is a director, have not responded to the claims against them and have taken no part in the proceedings.

Interestingly, Mr Mervyn had been declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in an alleged case of obtaining money under false pretence and fraudulent conversion of funds. The UK court said that his whereabouts are unknown and a worldwide freezing order (WFO) had earlier been granted against him and Frontier in 2022 but was discontinued in June 2023.

JNFX in its argument stated, among others, that Mr Mervyn lacked actual authority to enter into the Multichoice contract and act as its agent.

Arguments

In his arguments, Mr Giwa, on whom the burden of proof lies, submitted that JNFX has no realistic prospect of showing that Mr Mervyn is not guilty of deceit and lacked ostensible authority to act as its agent in entering into the MultiChoice contracts and that it is not therefore liable for Mr Mervyn’s deceit. He also argued against the claim that JNFX would not in any event have been obliged to fulfil any of its obligations under the MultiChoice contracts due to the requirement in its standard terms of business which would have governed them that all payments to it must be made to a bank account in the name of JNFX.

JNFX on its part argued that the quantum of Mr Giwa’s claim should be reduced to $8.4 million ($8,429,369) in light of dollar payments made by it for which no credit has been given, adding that his application raises complex issues of fact which need to be the subject of disclosure and evidence at a trial.

Mr Giwa submitted that the defendants have no real prospect of defending the claim and that there is no other compelling reason for a trial. He argued that he is entitled to summary judgment; and that the amended defence discloses no reasonable grounds for defending the claim. JNFX, on its part, submitted that its defence has a real prospect of success, and that summary judgment should therefore be refused.

JNFX argued that the failure of Mr Mervyn to fulfil his intention and execute the exchange contract is not evidence of the falsity of those intentions when made. Based in particular on the evidence of JNFX’s solicitors, the company claimed that it was “perfectly possible” that Mr Mervyn only subsequently got into difficulties related to the depreciation of the Naira against the dollar which resulted in his original intentions not being able to be fulfilled.

Verdict

The court agreed that the matters presented by Mr Giwa are not themselves evidence of the falsity of Mr Mervyn’s intentions on which the contractual agreements are founded. But when taken together with all the other matters relied on, the court rejected JNFX’s solicitors’ alternative explanation as the more plausible explanation.

Commenting on JNFX’s claim that Mr Mervyn had no actual authority to represent the company, the court dismissed the claim and agreed with Mr Giwa based on the facts that Mr Mervyn corresponded from a JNFX email address, was described in the emails’ signature block as JNFX’s “Head of Global Markets” with the contact and website details of JNFX given, and also described himself as “Head of Emerging Markets”.

“Importantly, it is also clear that Mr Green (JNFX’s managing director) and Mr Eisenberg (of JNFX) were aware from having been copied into or forwarded communications from Mr Mervyn to Mr Giwa and third parties such as MultiChoice and Dubai Islamic Bank of the role being claimed by Mr Mervyn and at no time disclaimed that role or indicated that he lacked the authority to transact the business which he was transacting,” the court ruled.

After reviewing the various arguments and evidence presented by the parties, the court held that Mr Giwa is entitled to summary judgment in respect of his claim of deceit against JNFX and Mr Mervyn in the sum of N7.9 billion (N7,914,209.196.50) together with interest.

It also held that JNFX’s defence be struck out to the extent that it pleads a defence to the claim of deceit, and refused permission to amend JNFX’s defence in so far as the amendments relate to a defence to the claim of deceit.

“The application for summary judgment or to strike out JNFX’s Defence so far as concerns the contractual claim against JNFX is dismissed and that claim shall proceed to trial,” the court held.

 

Credit: Premium Times

 


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