The Mail & Guardian is reportedly entertaining between six and seven offers, with a new owner for the prestigious newspaper expected to be announced by the end of the week.
Financial services firm Deloitte is managing the sale and the company’s board met on Monday morning to discuss the offers, reports the Daily Maverick.
Mail & Guardian CEO Hoosain Karjieker said that the bidding price would obviously play a key role in the decision to sell, however he said that would editorial policies were equally important and maintaining the publication’s editorial independence would also be a key factor in which party was selected as a buyer.
The Weekly Mail was started in mid-1985 by a group of journalists who had been recently retrenched from the Rand Daily Mail and the Sunday Express, which had both closed down. The paper was run on a shoestring budget, but was made possible by the revolution in “desktop publishing” of the 1980s.
In the mid-1990s, a deal with the British paper The Guardian integrated that publication’s international content with the Mail’s South African coverage, beginning the process that would see The Weekly Mail become the Mail & Guardian. It would keep that name, now a well-established brand in the Southern African media landscape, after 2002, when Zimbabwean media entrepreneur Trevor Ncube took over ownership of the company.
In that time, the paper had launched South Africa’s first internet news site, as well as uncovering major scandals in the oil industry (“Oilgate”) and exposing commissioner of police Jackie Selebi’s corrupt relationship with a gangster.
The publication currently belongs to M&G Media Limited which is 77.69% owned by Zimbabwean publisher and entrepreneur Trevor Ncube.
A 10% share each is held by the M&G Staff Share Trust and Media Development Investment Fund and the remaining 2.31% in shares is attributed to other minorities.