ICASA raps MultiChoice on the knuckles for listing despite complaint

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The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa has expressed its "concern" that the MultiChoice group proceeded with its listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange despite facing a complaint before ICASA's Complaints and Compliance Committee.

MultiChoice was previously part of Naspers and unbundled from its parent company in September 2018.

In late January, non-profit Khulisa Social Solutions lodged a complaint with the CCC regarding the listing, saying MultiChoice was contravening the Electronic Communications Act.

Khulisa wanted an opportunity to file representations with the communications regulator before MultiChoice started trading its shares.

MultiChoice, for its part, said it did not believe the regulator's prior approval was necessary for the listing to go ahead.  

In a statement issued on Wednesday – the date MultiChoice began trading on the JSE – ICASA said it "note(d) with concern that the listing of the Multichoice Group seems to be going ahead even though there is a complaint before the Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) against the licensee on this listing matter."

According to the complaint lodged, Khulisa took issue with MultiChoice listing without the prior approval of the regulator.

"In its complaint, Khulisa stated that the upcoming listing of the Multichoice Group on the JSE will result in a contravention of Section 13(1) of the Electronic Communications Act 0f 2005 (ECA), as amended.

"Section 13(1) of the ECA states that ‘an individual licence may not be let, sub-let, assigned, ceded or in any way transferred, and the control of the individual licence may not be assigned, ceded or in any way transferred to any other person without the prior written permission of the Authority'," ICASA said in its statement.

According to ICASA, MultiChoice appeared before the CCC on February 18 and, in its representations, argued that the matter was not urgent and the listing had not yet taken place, adding that had not committed any contraventions in the past.

"ICASA is indeed concerned that the listing seems to be going ahead whilst the CCC is still considering representations that were made and yet to make its final recommendations on the matter to Council of the Authority," ICASA said.

Approached by Fin24 for comment, MultiChoice Group Executive: Corporate Affairs, Joe Heshu, said that MultiChoice had engaged constructively with ICASA's CCC to resolve the matter.

"MultiChoice Group is satisfied that all the necessary regulatory approvals in relation to its listing on the JSE have been properly sought as required," Heshu said.

At 14:22 on Wednesday, MultiChoice Group [JSE:MSG] shares were trading 11.5% up at R106.46 per share. They had started trading at R95.50.

* Fin24 is part of Media24, a subsidiary of Naspers

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