Primedia announced this week that it will sell Prezence, a digital and mobile solutions business, after a strategic review of the group’s business assets.
“Our financial year ends in June so we take stock of our assets and see how the fit with our overarching strategy,” says Geraint Crwys-Williams, Primedia’s group commercial executive.
The company has “40 to 44 media business platforms”, Crwys- Williams says, and the decision to sell Prezence was simply because it is not a media business.
“Prezence is essentially a mobile development business and we’re not a tech business. We can’t add significant value to the operation, or leverage it, and believe this is unfair to employees wanting to get ahead in the business,” Crwys-Williams says.
Primedia has received six expressions of interest so far, all from technology companies. Earlier, the company said it believed Prezence would fit either within a tech business, or an advertising/media agency environment. “Prezence will fit in a software company, or the digital media agency sector,” says Crwys-Williams. He says the companies interested in Prezence are global and local. “Prezence must go to the right home,” he says. “We want it to go to a company that will look after staff and help them develop. “
The company said in a brief statement it was committed to “a responsible and controlled exit process, safeguarding the interests of all stakeholders. This will ensure that Prezence’s clients receive uninterrupted service throughout the process, and that the company’s staff are able to continue creating and delivering internationally acclaimed work”.
He said Primedia was “open for negotiation” in terms of a price tag for Prezence, and that the company was “inviting offers”. He could not confirm a ballpark figure on what Primedia hoped to get for business.
Crwys-Williams said the decision to sell Prezence had nothing to do with Primedia deciding to relist on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. “It’s not a foregone conclusion that we’ll list, “ he says. “We operate in a dynamic environment, which can change, but we have indicated that it would be strategic – but this would be at least 24 months away.”
Former CEO Kuben Pillay (who is now executive chairman of the group) handed over to Roger Jardine earlier this year. At the time, the business media speculated the appointment was made in preparation for a return to the JSE. Jardine is the former CEO of construction company, Aveng, but had served as CEO of Kagiso Media prior to that.
Cape Town-based Prezence was launched by Tim Bishop in 1998. He later sold the company to Primedia. CEO Prakash Patel, who took the helm in 2011, left the company in January, as did deputy managing director, George Reed.