Avusa Investors Flout PIC to Approve Mvelaphanda Takeover

Avusa Ltd. shareholders approved the South African media company’s sale to a unit of Mvelaphanda Group Ltd., rejecting opposition by the state-employee pension-fund manager that’s the second-biggest investor.

Shareholders owning 78.5 percent of Avusa stock approved the transaction at a meeting in Johannesburg today, the publishing company said today in a statement. The Public Investment Corp., Africa’s largest fund manager, was among the 21.4 percent of shareholders that voted against the sale, PIC Chief Executive Officer Elias Masilela said in a mobile-phone text message.

Mvelaphanda, an investment company with stakes in financial institution Absa Group Ltd. and builder Group Five Ltd., is Johannesburg-based Avusa’s biggest owner with a 21.3 percent stake, with the PIC ranking second with about 17.3 percent. Mvelaphanda is renaming the holding company that owns Avusa’s stock as Times Media Group Ltd. and plans to list the combined unit on the Johannesburg exchange on Sept. 10.

Avusa’s South African assets include the Sunday Times weekly, Financial Mail magazine and Summit TV business-news channel. It’s also a partner in a venture with London-based Pearson Plc that publishes Business Day, the country’s biggest business newspaper.

Investors in Avusa can choose to get 24 rand in cash, 1.48 shares in Times Media Group, or a combination of cash and the stock, for each share they hold. Avusa rose 6.1 percent to 22.80 rand at the close in Johannesburg, the day’s best performance on the FTSE/JSE Africa All Shares Index, for a market value of 2.84 billion rand ($345 million).

The PIC urged Avusa shareholders in a letter Aug. 8 to withhold approval of the deal, saying the media company is already reorganizing and would be taking on too much debt with the transaction.

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