Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, one of the founding members of the African News Agency (ANA), announced on Friday that it has ownership of Sapa’s archives.
Sapa’s board and members had approved Sekunjalo’s bid to acquire the SA Press Association’s assets which included the brand name, news and pictures archives.
“Our bid for the Sapa assets was extremely important and we are very happy that it has now been approved by the Sapa board,” Sekunjalo’s digital head and chief executive of ANA Chris Borain said in a statement.
Borain said Sekunjalo had always wanted to protect and safeguard the Sapa brand and the important role it played in the country’s media history.
The company had offered a partnership to Gallo and KMMR, which expressed interest in bidding for the national news agency, to see how they could possibly save Sapa and ensure it was commercially sustainable.
“We also want to make it clear that we went as far as to approach Media24 to partner with us to keep Sapa afloat, but they opted to rather have Sapa shut down and see over 70 people lose their jobs, than to work with us,” Borain said.
Media24 was not immediately available to comment on the claims.
Earlier this month, Media24 digital division, 24.com, announced it would be launching a news wire service next month.
The new service would be called News24Wire with syndication and access being handled by Gallo Images, Media24 said in a statement.
A national reporting team of 16, including some of Sapa’s reporters, was being assembled by News24 editor-in-chief Andrew Trench.
The team would be headed by Sapa’s news editor Fienie Grobler.
Sapa announced in February that it would be shutting down. Its last story will be sent out on March 31.
“After the disposal of the assets the company will be liquidated and its operations will cease on March 31, 2015,” board chairwoman Minette Ferreira said in a statement at the time.
Meanwhile, Sekunjalo said it would give Sapa’s existing staff preferential ability to apply for positions at ANA, subject to its normal recruitment processes.
“We continue to be in contact with existing clients and staff of Sapa to work with them in establishing an agency that will provide the quality diary and content service Sapa was known for,” he said.
ANA started operating at the beginning of the month.
Borain said it was using the month to test its systems and build its team.
ANA had secured feeds from international news agencies that would be available to its subscribers.
Besides News24Wire, it was reported that Times Media also intends launching a news wire service at the end of March.
Borain welcomed the agencies.
“We look forward to comparing our service with theirs in South Africa, but our objectives are far broader and continental in nature as we establish ANA globally as the African continent’s first multimedia content syndication agency.”
ANA’s editorial team includes former Weekend Argus deputy editor Lindiz van Zilla as ANA national news editor. The ANA parliamentary team includes Sapa staffer Chantall Presence.