American law firm investigates MultiChoice, ANN7 deal

Shares in Naspers dropped more than 4 percent in late afternoon deals in Johannesburg, weighed down by both the investigation and a sell-off in Tencent Holdings 0700.HK .

US-based legal firm Pomerantz has waded into the fray by initiating an investigation into claims that Naspers and certain of its officers or directors might have engaged in securities fraud or other unlawful business practices.

Pressure is mounting on MultiChoice's parent company, Naspers over its relationship with the Gupta family. A phone call to the firm's NY office wasn't answered out of business hours.

The wealthy Gupta brothers, who have close ties with President Jacob Zuma, face accusations of state capture in which they allegedly used their proximity to power to exert undue influence on state enterprises in order to win lucrative state tenders.

USA consultancy McKinsey & Co and auditor KPMG are among global companies to have found that work done for the family had breached corporate governance standards.

While Naspers CEO Koos Bekker insists the payments are above board, the substantial increases have raised eyebrows - over the last two years MultiChoice increased its annual payment to ANN7 from R50 million to R141 million. It has opened an investigation into MultiChoice, but Carrim has criticised the African media giant for trying to distance itself from MultiChoice's actions although it owns about 80% of the pay-TV provider.

Naspers‚ which owns MultiChoice‚ and Pomerantz did not immediately respond to queries seeking further clarification.

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