Canal+ increases stake in South Africa’s Multichoice to more than 30%

Vivendi-owned media group Canal+ has increased its stake in South Africa-based platform MultiChoice by 4% to 30.27%. The move further fuels rumours that the French company might be looking to launch a renewed takeover bid, having previously made an offer for the company in 2017 – only to see it dismissed by current owner Naspers.

Canal+ has not commented on its ultimate plans regarding MultiChoice, but it has increased its stake from 6% in 2020, with a major top up taking place last year. 35% is the next crucial threshold, because that will trigger a mandatory buyout offer to shareholders. It is not clear exactly how much of the company Canal+ would be able to control in order to stay on the right side of South Africa’s media ownership laws.

Observers see Canal+’s interest in Multichoice as part of a broader ambition to become the leading PayTV and streaming platform across Africa. Although based in South Africa, the majority of Multichoice’s 22.1 million subscribers are in other parts of English-speaking Africa (13 million versus the 9.1 million in South Africa). At the same time, Canal+ is also a leading player in French-speaking Africa via its Canal+ Afrique offering. Predominantly based in Central and West Africa, that business has around 6.6 million subscribers (June 2022) and is growing. Canal+’s presence on the African continent is also boosted by the activities of its subsidiary Thema.

There is some overlap between Canal+’s French-speaking footprint and Multichoice, but for the most part they are complementary. Bringing them together under unified ownership would mean economies of scale across content, marketing and operations.

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