Survé-linked tech and media firm again postpones JSE listing

Cape Town - Sagarmatha Technologies, the parent company which aims to include many of the assets of the Independent Media group - owners of the Cape Times and The Star - has again postponed the date of its listing on the JSE. 

Sagarmatha was initially scheduled to list on the local bourse on Friday. Earlier in the week this was moved to Wednesday April 11.

In a shareholder note published on Thursday evening, the technology and media group said it now intends to list on Friday April 13. 

The group says the reasons for the second delay is a request from potential investors to extend the closing date of the private placement of up to 189 million of the group's proposed 1.2 billion shares.

Through this placement, with invited investors only, the group had hoped to raise up to R7.5bn and create buzz ahead of its main listing on the JSE. 

About R1bn of this capital would be used to pay off debt.

The placement shares have been valued at R39.62 each, which means the group’s 1.2 billion shares will give it a market capitalisation of R49.7bn. This will just about put it in the top 40 by valuation on the JSE. 

Thursday's announcement did not say which institutional investors had asked for a delay. The group has said that, if the private placement brings in less than R3bn, the stock market listing will not take place. 

The group said it has received irrevocable commitments to purchase between R350m and R600m in pre-placement shares by five investors. The delay in listing may indicate that it is having trouble in raising the remainder of its goal of R7.5bn. 

Place, acquire, list 

Sagarmatha’s current major assets include majority stakes in news wire agency ANA, e-commerce retailer Loot, IOL Property and online news site IOL. 

It has previously said that, by the time it lists on the local bourse, it would also have acquired 100% of the shares of holding company Sekunjalo Independent Media, or SIM, which in turn holds a 55% interest in newspaper publisher Independent Media. 

Businessman Iqbal Survé is the executive chairperson of SIM and two of its subsidiaries, Independent Media and Independent Newspapers.

The Survé family, via a trust, also owns a majority of shares in SIM.

The 201-page pre-listing statement sketches ambitious plans for Sagarmatha, including expanding its e-commerce business, opening new bureaus, expanding its news wire ANA outside South Africa, buying new businesses, scaling various technology initiatives, and more. 

"In South Africa, media giant Independent Media is waiting on the results of a ground-breaking listing on the JSE which would bring to life a dynamic, multi-sided platform that would marry the group's industry leading content platform with its digital brand and, its thriving eCommerce platform," Sagarmatha said in a media release on Thursday. 

SIM, the parent company of Independent Media, is in a challenging financial position.

According to the 201-page pre-listing statement, as of June 30 2017 it had accumulated losses of R752m, while the company’s total liabilities exceeded its assets by R547m. 

“The ability of the company to continue as a going concern is dependent on a number of factors. The most significant of these is that the directors continue to procure funding for the ongoing operations for the company," the pre-listing stated.

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