The board of Johnnic Communications (Johncom) is appointing advisers to help it to secure appropriate empowerment shareholding.
The group expects to make a proposal to shareholders “In due course”, it said yesterday.
The empowerment issue arose after Johnnic Holdings, Johncom’s major shareholder, announced last week that it would unbundle its 62,5% stake in Johncom to its shareholders.
Johnnic Holdings is regarded as an empowerment company because the National Empowerment Consortium, which is made up of black business and labour, controls 27,8% through a voting pool agreement, according to company documents.
But after inquiries, Johnnic undertook an exercise with its share registrars on its black share holding at the end of March. Based on a range of factors, including the black shareholding in institutions holding Johnnic shares the share registrars estimated that at the end of March 29,46% of Johnnic shareholders were black. It has about 23 000 black shareholders holding between 16 and 50 shares each as a result of the Ikageng share scheme But they account for only a small fraction of the shares that are in issue.
Because Johnnic controls Johncom Johncom is also considered an empowerment company.
However after the unbundling the percentage of black shareholders in Johncom will foil to a fraction of what it is now.
BusinessMap director Reg Rumney said Johncom would be ranked by BusinessMap as black influenced after unbundling a category with empowerment shareholding of about 10 and one black executive director. But Johncom has black management and the last employment equity figures Rumney said he had seen for the company showed it was above average. Johncom CEO, Connie Molusl, said Johncom had some black shareholders who were participants in the Ikageng share scheme but after unbundling there would be no substantial black shareholding in the company Asked if the Johncom board was aiming for a 25% black shareholding he said 25% would be the minimum target but this depended on the direct black shareholding in Johncom.
There are strong rumours that at least two separate empowerment bidders would be Interest ed in Johncom, a management-led buyout and a consortium including owners, Hosken Consolidated Investments.
Johnnic chairman, Cyril Ramaphosa, nonexecutive director Mashudu Ramano and MTN CEO and former Johnnic non-executive director Phuthuma Nhleko Rumney said a management buyout would be the preferred option for Johncom depending on financing as it was Important to preserve its Independence.
A newspaper group too closely aligned to one political party would losecredibility. But an institutional media analyst said It was more important that Johncom’s board should sell a stake at the fairest price for shareholders.
Johncom is a pan owner of Business Day’s publisher BDFM.

Source: Business Day – Charlotte Mathews