Bloomberg News

Avusa CEO Desai Resigns a Week After Chairman, Director Quit

September 28, 2011

(Updates with directors’ departure in first paragraph.)

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Avusa Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Prakash Desai quit a week after the chairman and two directors resigned citing interference by shareholders of the publisher of South Africa’s largest weekend broadsheet newspaper.

Desai, who was CEO for five years and had been with the company for 13 years, will step down on Oct. 3 with Michael Robertson, the managing director of media, appointed as acting CEO, Johannesburg-based Avusa said in a statement today. Robertson will work with Desai over the next month to “ensure a smooth transition,” the company said.

Desai’s departure comes after Chairman Dumisa Ntsebeza and non-executive independent directors Tom Wixley and Babalwa Ngonyama quit the board on Sept. 19. The management of Avusa, which was the subject of a failed buyout bid from a group led by private equity firm Capitau Holdings Ltd., has had public disagreements with shareholder Mvelaphanda Group Ltd. over the media company’s acquisition last year of Universal Print Group and Hirt & Carter.

Mvelaphanda, Avusa’s largest shareholder, had opposed the transaction, citing dilution of its stake, which was 25.5 percent at the time. The deal, a combination of new shares and cash, was approved by other shareholders, resulting in Mvelaphanda’s stake dropping to 21.3 percent, according to the company’s latest annual report.

Avusa publishes South Africa’s Sunday Times, has a stake in Business Day, distributes films and sells books.

--Editors: Ana Monteiro, Emily Bowers

To contact the reporter on this story: Janice Kew in Johannesburg at jkew4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net


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