South Africa’s Super 5 Media says it’s still in business but makes 40 staff redundant

Investment

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has received a written assurance from pay-TV licensee Super 5 Media that it is still in operation. “We received a communiqué from Super 5 Media a week before last clarifying its position in relation to recent press reports,” says Icasa spokesman, Paseka Maleka.

He says the letter assured Icasa that the company was still in operation and that any changes to management, staff and the corporate structure would be communicated to the regulator soon.

However, Super 5 Media’s letter to Icasa came just days after it had retrenched all its remaining employees, about 40 people in all. Earlier this month, TechCentral broke the news of the problems at the broadcaster. The company is facing a claim of as much as R25m from international investment advisory firm Rothschild.

Super 5 Media is said to be liable for advisory fees related to Telkom’s sale of the fixed-line operator’s controlling stake in the company to Shenzen Media SA, which is led by colourful and controversial Chinese businessman Philip Xiao.

Rothschild is apparently seeking Super 5 Media’s liquidiation. The company declines to comment, saying Super 5 is a client.

Xiao told to TechCentral at the end of July that more clarity would be available on what is happening at the company soon. However, repeated attempts to contact him since have led nowhere. Director Tian du Pisanie has also not answered repeated calls and e-mails and has apparently since left the business.

The problems at Super 5 Media don’t end with Rothschild’s application. The landlord that owns the company’s plush offices in Centurion, north of Johannesburg, has also won an attachment order against its moveable assets, a source close to the company says.

According to one of Super 5 Media’s retrenched employees, Telkom signed a long-term lease — somewhere between 10 and 15 years — with the property owner. Super 5 hasn’t been keeping up with lease payments, the ex-employee says. The company’s Internet connection and telephone lines have also been cut off.

Super 5 Media, formerly known as Telkom Media, was once regarded as the strongest potential competitor to incumbent pay-TV broadcaster MultiChoice with its DStv service. Its prospects have since dwindled as it missed repeated deadlines to launch a product.