Cape Town - A minority shareholder in the Paarl Media Group has decided to withdraw the sale of his put shares.
Lambert Retief (61), non-executive chair of Paarl Media Group, of which Media24 owns more than 80%, said in a statement issued on Friday that he decided against his decision to retire and sell the shares under his control.
His current management agreement will, therefore, remain in place.
The Retief family had signed an agreement with Media24, which gave them put options in future to oblige Media24 to buy the family's shares in Paarl Media.
"After turning 60 I wanted to retire, so we exercised our put options to sell the remaining 5% and 12.5% shares in two companies in the heatset and coldset printing businesses to Media24," said Retief.
"Media24 already has more than 80% of the shares in both companies, but because I had a management agreement which would lapse, we had notified the Competition Commission of a 'merger' transaction."
Caxton, a direct competitor, objected.
"The Competition Commission, after thoroughly considering the objections raised by Caxton, recommended to the Competition Tribunal that the merger be approved unconditionally," said Retief.
The Tribunal, however, did not agree and, according to Refief, refused to give any reasons for its decision.
Caxton claimed the proposed merger could give rise to anti-competitive information sharing that could negatively affect media diversity in South Africa.
The Tribunal granted Caxton's application to intervene in the merger application between Media24, Paarl Media Holdings and Paarl Coldset.
It also ordered Media24 to submit information about firms directly and indirectly in control of Naspers.
"We simply can’t proceed with the deal, as Caxton will be as disruptive as they can and will paralyse us operationally for years to come, given the width and depth of the interventions allowed by the Tribunal," said Retief.
"Caxton and their lawyers can, in this way, access Media24’s commercially sensitive information."
According to Retief a previous chair of the Competition Tribunal, Dave Lewis, once said Caxton's rivalry "borders on the obsessive", "pure harassment" and is "for the sheer pleasure of irritating Naspers".
* Fin24 is part of Media24, a subsidiary of Naspers.