Despite a hurricane of rumours swirling around in the South African media space saying that the Mail & Guardian is up for sale, the company has strongly denied this. Michael Bratt reports
The rumours state that a price of R100 million has been attached to the Mail & Guardian and some say there has been strong interest from Independent Media Group’s Dr Iqbal Surve. But in an email to The Media Online’s Michael Bratt, Mail and Guardian chief executive Hoosain Karjieker says, “I can state quite categorically and unequivocally that the Mail & Guardian is NOT up for sale. There is no contemplated value of R100 million nor are there any negotiations underway with Iqbal Surve, or anyone else for that matter. I hope that puts paid to that rumour.”
In a statement Independent Media Group said, “Independent Media continues to expand on our solid national and international stable of media interests, but certainly have no intention of conducting our business affairs in the media domain. Mr Hoosain Karjieker and Mr Trevor Ncube are well aware of the nature of discussions they have conducted historically with Independent Media, and we certainly empathise with them as they undergo “extensive restructuring of the organisation.”
As mentioned in the Independent Media Group statement, the Mail & Guardian is currently facing staff cuts due to the “extensive restructuring of the organisation.” M&G Media deputy executive chairman, Trevor Ncube recently revealed this. In an emailed statement to The Media Online, Ncube says, “The restructuring has been necessitated by structural changes within the media industry, tough trading conditions as a result of weak economic growth in the country. These strong headwinds forced the company to reassess its strategy, products and brands.”
Ncube went on to say that, “There is no doubt that Mail & Guardian will survive. Unfortunately we have to make tough and painful business decisions to protect more jobs and secure the future of this great South African institution.”
The staff cut process started on 13 July and is expected to take approximately 90 days to complete. Those affected will know by the first week of August. The release didn’t state how many staff will be cut but some media publications, citing an unnamed source, put the number at 25, including 16 in the editorial department.