The Retief Family signed an agreement with Media24 which gave the company the put option in future to oblige Media24 to buy the family’s shares in Paarl Media.
‘After turning 60 I wanted to retire, so we exercised our put options to sell the remaining 5% and 12.5% shares in two companies in the heatset and coldset printing businesses to Media24,’ said Lambert Retief, Non-executive Chairman of Paarl Media Group. ‘Media24 already has more than 80% of the shares in both companies, but because I had a management agreement which would lapse, we had to notify the transaction to the Competition Commission as a merger.’
Retief mentioned that Caxton objected, ‘Terry Moolman is a vexatious litigant and has sued numerous companies in the past. The Competition Commission, after thoroughly considering the objections raised by Caxton, recommended to the Competition Tribunal that the merger be approved unconditionally.’
The Tribunal allowed Caxton to intervene on a wide range of issues. Quite extraordinarily, the Tribunal has refused to give any reasons whatsoever for its decision.
Retief stated, ‘We simply can’t proceed with the deal, as Caxton will be as disruptive as they can and will paralyse us operationally for years to come, given the width and depth of the interventions allowed by the Tribunal. Caxton and their lawyers can in this way access Media24’s commercially sensitive information. ‘
The previous chair of the Competition Tribunal, Dave Lewis, once put it succinctly when he said Caxton’s rivalry ‘borders on the obsessive’. This was pure harassment, for the sheer pleasure of irritating Naspers, Caxton wasted shareholders’ money and obliged Naspers to do the same.’
‘I refuse to be part of the Caxton circus and further waste shareholders’ money. We have therefore informed Media24 today that I’m withdrawing our put option to sell our shares, and have accordingly collapsed the transaction. My management agreement therefore remains in place,’ Retief concluded.