Multichoice extends Chairman Imtiaz Patel’s tenure to conclude Canal+ deal

The Board of Multichoice Group said they have agreed to extend the tenure of the company’s Chairman, Imtiaz Patel for him to spearhead the conclusion of the ongoing buyout deal with French media conglomerate Groupe Canal+.

The owner of DStv had earlier in September last year announced that Patel would step down. Elias Masilela was set to take over as chair from 1 April 2024.

However, in a notice issued to its shareholders on Tuesday, the company said Patel will remain as chairman until the completion of the ongoing Canal+ transaction, while Masilela, a long-standing non-executive director and the designated Chair, will become the Deputy Chair of the MultiChoice Board.

What Multichoice is saying

Citing the recent decision of the Takeover Regulation Panel as the reason, the Multichoice Board in the notice to shareholders said:

  • “In view of the recent ruling by the Takeover Regulation Panel (“TRP”) that required Groupe Canal+ SA (“Canal+”) to make an immediate mandatory offer to all MultiChoice shareholders (“the transaction”) and the cautionary SENS notice issued on 5 March 2024 in this regard, the MultiChoice Board has reached an agreement with Mr Imtiaz Patel to remain on as Chair.
  • “The Board believes that 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.
  • “Effective 1 April 2024, Mr. Elias Masilela, a long-standing non-executive director (NED) and the designated Chair, will become the Deputy Chair of the MultiChoice Board. He will also become Lead Independent Director (LID) in the place of Mr. Jim Volkwyn, who will be stepping down as LID but remain as a NED.
  • “The Board expresses its gratitude to Mr Patel for extending his tenure and to Mr Masilela for taking on the new roles on the Board. It also wishes to thank Mr Volkwyn for his service as LID and as the Chair of the Remuneration Committee – his dedication, leadership, and tireless efforts have been invaluable to the Company.”

The backstory

Earlier in March, South Africa’s Takeover Regulation Panel ruled that Vivendi SE’s Canal+ is obligated to make a mandatory offer for MultiChoice Group after augmenting its shareholding in the African pay-TV business to over 35%.

The ruling followed MultiChoice’s announcement on February 5, indicating that Canal+’s holdings surpassed the threshold stipulated by South African law, necessitating a mandatory offer to shareholders.

Before that, Canal+ had offered a $2.5 billion acquisition deal to MultiChoice, a Pan-African Pay-TV operator.

Canal+, led by French billionaire Vincent Bollore, proposed 105 rand per share in cash, presenting a 40% premium to MultiChoice’s recent closing price. This move aligns with Vivendi’s strategy to merge Canal+’s local operations with MultiChoice, creating a conglomerate with nearly 50 million subscribers.

MultiChoice, however, rejected the offer citing the undervaluation of the company at the proposed R105 per share. The rejection was communicated to shareholders, emphasizing MultiChoice’s resistance to the acquisition terms.

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