MultiChoice starts JSE trading at R95.50

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 27 Feb 2019
MultiChoice Group CEO, Calvo Mawelo, blows the trumpet as the company makes its JSE debut.
MultiChoice Group CEO, Calvo Mawelo, blows the trumpet as the company makes its JSE debut.

MultiChoice Group (MCG) today listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

The listed MCG includes MultiChoice South Africa, MultiChoice Africa Holdings, Showmax, as well as the global digital platform security provider Irdeto, and all their subsidiaries and affiliates (MultiChoice Group).

MCG's share started trading at R95.50.

The listing comes after Naspers last year said it was planning to list MultiChoice separately on the JSE and simultaneously to unbundle the shares in the business to its shareholders.

Market watchers have since told ITWeb that Naspers no longer needs money from pay-TV operator MultiChoice, which has admitted to facing several risks and uncertainties in its business. The pay-TV operator is facing competition from the like of Netflix and other over-the-top (OTT) providers.

In a statement issued this morning, MCG says it brings local and international entertainment and sport content to around 14 million households in 50 African markets, providing viewers with access to content from eight out of 10 major international studios.

Importantly, its adds, MCG is differentiated by its production of over 4 500 hours of local content in 10 studios across Africa.

According to the company, Showmax alone has 17 500 hours of content with half being local content.

Calvo Mawela, group CEO, commented: "Today's listing is an important milestone in our exciting journey of growth.

"As one of the fastest growing pay-TV broadcast providers globally, our strong financial position at listing is backed by attractive long-term growth opportunities in both subscriber numbers and revenue. MCG has a highly cash generative core with no financial debt, and we are poised to deliver value to our shareholders over time."

The company notes that while it continues to drive incremental mass-market growth in its South African base, the business on the rest of the continent has stabilised with a value strategy driving operational and financial improvements

Moreover, it points out that there is meaningful scope to drive up pay-TV penetration in the rest of Africa in the mid to mass market while the connected video services represent a fast-growing, longer-term opportunity.

"The cutting-edge innovation of Irdeto, our global digital platform security company, further underpins our competitive position," the company says.

Irdeto provides technical capability to MCG in protecting platforms and applications for video entertainment, video games, connected transport and IOT connected industries.

According to MultiChoice, Irdeto is independently profitable with more than 400 global clients including Airtel, Charter, Electronic Arts, Fox, Foxtel, IBM Security, KPN, Liberty Global, Premier League, Tata Sky, Warner Brothers, XPENG.

Bob van Dijk, Naspers CEO, commented: "Today is a proud day for Naspers. Listing MultiChoice Group through an unbundling unlocks value for Naspers shareholders by creating the opportunity for them to own a direct stake in MultiChoice Group, a top-40 JSE-listed African entertainment group.

"We are also very pleased to be able to create further value for Phuthuma Nathi shareholders, who, through MultiChoice South Africa, have already participated in one of South Africa's most successful empowerment schemes. As MultiChoice Group embarks on its next exciting chapter, I look forward to seeing the team build further on their impressive success story."

Mawela concluded: "We are overwhelmingly positive about MultiChoice Group's future. With the largest pay-TV footprint across Africa, we understand our customers and tailor our offering and services to suit market-specific video entertainment needs. This, coupled with a leading content offering, world-class technology and infrastructure, pan-African scale and strong in-country capabilities, positions us well to generate shareholder returns and future growth."