MDIF acquires majority stake in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian

(New York, 12 December 2017) MDIF has acquired a majority stake in South African media company Mail & Guardian.

The restructured ownership also sees M&G’s Chief Executive Officer, Hoosain Karjieker, acquire a minority stake in the business as part of a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) transaction. The former majority shareholder, Trevor Ncube, has disposed of his equity interest in M&G.

“MDIF has worked with M&G for more than a decade and knows the company intimately,” said CEO Harlan Mandel. “We have invested in M&G because it is a uniquely important media organization with a great future. Its independent reporting has a profound impact on the national debate and it is a beacon for independent journalism across the continent, and indeed the world. We are committed to building on this legacy and re-establishing M&G as a commercially and journalistically dynamic institution at this important time in South African politics.”

MDIF has a 22-year history of helping to build print, digital and broadcast media companies in emerging markets. Since 1996, it has invested in more than 100 media companies in 39 countries on five continents.

Mr. Karjieker said the MDIF’s knowledge of the M&G would provide a good foundation for the future of the company.

“This new structure bodes well for the long term sustainability of the M&G,” he said.

MDIF Deputy CEO Mohamed Nanabhay said: “We are excited about this new chapter for M&G, and are looking forward to working with management, editorial and other staff to revive this great and relevant company’s fortunes. M&G is rightly recognized as one of Africa’s great media brands and we are thrilled to be able to bring our expertise in helping to build media companies to such an iconic institution.”

MDIF first provided a loan to M&G in 2003 when Mr. Ncube purchased a controlling interest from the UK’s Guardian Media Group at a time when the company was in a perilous financial position. Further debt and equity investment helped stabilise the company, build its distribution network and develop its award-winning digital news site.

As part of the transaction, MDIF has exited its equity stake in Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) in Zimbabwe to Mr. Ncube. MDIF still retains AMH as a loan client.

Mr. Mandel said: “Trevor Ncube has played a vital role in the history of M&G, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to its editorial independence and high standards of journalism. He deserves enormous credit for successfully turning around a failing paper and charting a new strategy with new relevance for post-apartheid South Africa.”

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About MDIF

MDIF is a New York-based not-for-profit investment fund for independent media in countries where independent media are under threat. It has more than 20 years’ experience of helping build quality, news and information companies – print, digital and broadcast – in emerging markets. It has:

  • invested more than $163 million in 113 media companies
  • worked in 39 countries on 5 continents
  • a current portfolio of more than $60 million invested in over 50 media organizations

In South Africa, MDIF manages the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) – a three year, US$4m initiative to accelerate digital media innovation among independent media outlets and encourage new entrants.

About Mail & Guardian

The M&G is a quality, investigative and comment news publication, based on a culture of editorial independence and excellence. The publication was started as an alternative newspaper by a group of journalists in 1985 after the closure of two leading liberal newspapers, The Rand Daily Mail and Sunday Express. It was originally known as the Weekly Mail. The paper was renamed the Weekly Mail & Guardian on 30 July 1993. The London-based Guardian Media Group (GMG), publishers of The Guardian, became the majority shareholder of the print edition in 1995, and the name was changed to Mail & Guardian.

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