Independent Media alerts staff to short-payment of March salaries, instructs management to organise ‘rescue plan’
More than 1,000 employees of Independent Media received notice this week that only 75% of their salaries would be paid on Saturday morning, with communication regarding payment of the remaining 25% to follow next week, because 'our shareholders have advised us that they will no longer be supporting Independent Media financially'.
Daily Maverick is in possession of two internal memos. The first is the memo to staff alerting them to a short-payment of salaries, and urging staff to make necessary provisions to pay their monthly commitments, with the assurance that “we are happy to issue a confirmation of this arrangement in writing to any creditors that require such information”.
The second memo, to senior staff members and management, advises that “the business is in a very precarious situation”. Management has been organised into 15 separate groups, with instructions to develop a five-point “intervention and rescue plan”, which must be submitted to chief executive Takudzwa Hove by close of business on Monday, 27 March. Hove’s instructions are that groups are to focus only on “matters which have a high financial impact and which can be implemented urgently i.e. within 30 to 60 days”.
According to the Independent Media website, its shareholders are Sagarmatha Technologies and Interacom Investment Holdings, which comprises China International Television Corporation and the China-Africa Development Fund. The Sagarmatha Technologies website is “down for maintenance”.
According to the Sekunjalo website, Iqbal Survé is the chairman of Independent Media. Sekunjalo is the controlling shareholder in AYO Technologies, which reached a controversial out-of-court settlement with the Public Investment Corporation this week.
When asked if the sudden pulling of shareholder funding for Independent Media had anything to do with the fact that AYO has had to immediately pay about R600-million to the PIC, an Independent Media spokesperson hotly denied this. A statement mailed to Daily Maverick said, “Let us be clear, the out-of-court settlement between AYO and the PIC has nothing whatsoever to do with Independent Media. A wholly objective reviewing of the AYO/PIC matter would clearly determine why that matter was resolved in the way it was.”
The spokesperson pointed out that all media, especially print media, are experiencing challenges, with the price of newsprint having gone up by 30% in the last year alone.
“Independent Media distributes throughout the country and the cost of distribution has also increased, along with the costs of fuel over the last while – this has also impacted on overall operational costs. Thirdly, inflation and the impact on all other operational requirements has contributed immensely to these costs.”
The spokesperson says Independent Media is taking the appropriate measures to align its revenues with its cost structure, as it cannot rely on its shareholders to continuously provide it with capital to plug the gap. BM/DM