Tokyo Sexwale’s Mvelaphanda Group is after a 30% stake in the Mail&Guardian newspaper, writes Simpiwe Piliso in Business Times.

This comes just a week after the company announced the successful conclusion of a deal with fund managers Allan Gray to take over an estimated R1.4-billion stake in Johnnic Communications (Johncom) which owns, among other media interests, the Sunday Times.

On Friday, M&G publisher Trevor Ncube denied that an agreement had been reached or that Mvela was the preferred bidder for a stake in his company.

“All I can say at this stage is that we are in talks with a number of people and none of the discussions are anywhere close to a deal.”

Regarded as one of the country’s most influential newspapers, the M&G has a circulation of just under 50000 a week.

Asked whether Sexwale’s company was among the bidders, Ncube said: “ I’m not prepared to disclose who we are talking to … this could jeopardise our discussions.”

Mvela spokesman Chris Vick declined to comment on the M&G deal.

Sexwale’s move on the Mail&Guardian comes as Mvela finds itself having to fight off rivals for control of Johncom and its popular and powerful newspapers.

Business Times has confirmed that ANC heavyweight, Saki Macozoma’s Safika Holdings, which has stakes in Standard Bank and the Liberty Group, is part of a consortium which is also interested in Johncom.

And, last week the Sunday Times revealed that senior government officials were part of a consortium bidding for 100% of Johncom.

Koni Media Holdings, a company belonging to President Thabo Mbeki’s adviser Titus Mafolo, Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa, former chief of state protocol Billy Modise and businessman Groovin Nchabeleng, later confirmed they had launched a R7-billion bid for 100% of the operational divisions of Johncom.

On Friday, Macozoma said his group was in talks to acquire a stake in Johncom’s media assets.

Click here to read the full report, posted on the Sunday Times website.