MultiChoice to retain Patel as Chairman until the Canal+ deal closes

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The news: 

  • The board of MulitiChoice Group, an African entertainment company, has agreed with Imtiaz Patel, the company”s Chairman, to stay until the buyout with French media company Canal+ is completed.
  • This move follows the group’s initial statement in September 2023, announcing that Patel would step down as chairman on April 1, 2024. 
  • According to a shareholder update released Tuesday, April 2, 2024, the South African company reversed its announcement in an interesting turn of events. 

The company explained that “In view of the recent ruling by the Takeover Regulation Panel that required Groupe Canal+ SA to make an immediate mandatory offer to all MultiChoice shareholders, the MultiChoice board believes there is significant benefit in continuity at this time, and Mr. Patel has agreed to extend his tenure until the conclusion of the Canal+ transaction, or such sooner date as may be determined in light of progress on the transaction.”

In light of the recent events, Elias Masilela, a seasoned Non-Executive Director (NED) who was supposed to succeed Patel as chair, has been named Deputy Chairman of the MultiChoice board. 

Masilela will also succeed Jim Volkwynv as Lead Independent Director. While Volkwynv has stepped down, he remains a NED.

As the board sents its gratitude to Patel for staying on and Masilela for assuming the new roles, it also thanked Volkwyn for his service to the company. 

Canal+ owns over 35% of the shares in MultiChoice. Despite strict regulations, the French media company has steadily increased its stake in MultiChoice since 2020, rising from 20% to 35% by February 2024.

In a letter submitted to the South African-based video entertainment company’s board of directors on February 1, 2024, Canal+ made a non-binding indicative offer to acquire the remaining shares it doesn’t own the pay-TV business for R31.7 billion ($1.6 billion), subject to the necessary regulatory approvals.  

MultiChoice, however, declined the offer, claiming Canal+ undervalued the company. The company asked the French buyers to improve its offer. 

Later, the South African Takeover Regulation Panel ordered Canal+ to make a mandatory offer for the remaining shares in MultiChoice that it did not already own. The French company has until April 8 to complete the buyout. 

Canal+ has since raised its initial buy offer from $2.9 billion. Reports indicate that both parties are working closely to close the deal before the deadline. 

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When the deal closes, Canal+ intends to merge with MultiChoice to increase its subscriber base and invest more in sports and local content.