AN empowerment consortium led by emerging Zimbabwean media mogul Trevor Ncube has snapped up a 26% shareholding in a rapidly growing South African advertising firm, Open Communications (Pty) Ltd.
Ncube, the founder and publisher of the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard, teamed up with South Africans to buy the stake. This has raised Ncube’s profile in the South African media sector as he already owns the regional weekly, Mail & Guardian. Ncube is also president of Print Media South Africa and chairman of the Newspaper Association of South Africa.
An announcement by Open Communication, which has, like most white-owned South African businesses, been searching for a black economic empowerment partner, indicated that it had placed 26% of its issued shares with Ncube’s consortium. The deal was sealed last week.
“We believe we are going into business with kindred spirits,” said Ncube, who becomes the new board chairman. “We have a mutual respect for a culture of professionalism and high energy and are looking forward to a new period of growth.”
Ncube said the advertising industry had always been an attractive proposition for him. “We are looking at positioning Open Communications as a regional player and in this regard we will be exploring partnership opportunities with agencies in Zimbabwe and the rest of southern Africa,” Ncube said.
Formed three years ago, Open Communications has managed to establish an impressive client base, which includes major South African firms such as De Beers Operations and Explorations, Barloworld Equipment, the Mail & Guardian, South African Eagle and FNB corporate.
At the 2004 Finance Week Ad Review Awards, Open Communication was voted Newcomer of the Year against more established businesses and moved from nowhere to 21st place on Ad Review’s Big League table of the top 30 Marketing Communications Groups in South Africa.