The battle for ownership of Sheqafrica.co.za has reached new heights following the recent resignation of the managing director, Diane Swarts. Sheqafrica Africa Corporate Services(Pty)Ltd was registered in June 2019 and was the new owners of Sheqafrica.com, but after a four month period of no growth the company opted to shut down the magazine and use the domain name for its consulting business.
Diane Swarts resigned as Managing Director of its South African operations on 31 October 2019 and left the company under the control of its CEO, Nitesh Amersi at its Qatar office in Doha. According to official documents, she resigned for personal and professional reasons but did not elaborate. A former consultant to the company however said that there was a personal spat about an email server being offline over a weekend which resulted in her causing panic among shareholders saying that the company did not pay their service provider.
Although it was a technical glitch on the Newsletter system causing the email server to crash, the matter was resolved in about 3 hours, but the panic resulted in an unexpected sudden offer to sell around 60% of the SACS shareholding. The sale was hampered by the fact that SACS is a private company and current shareholders were not interested in reinvesting. The share price dropped from the original R330 to about R78 in a matter of 72 hours.
Two to the rescue
The long term strategy of SACS is a complex vision of transformation and the upliftment of the SHEQ profession through a process of employer education and information sharing. As it is a long process, some shareholders pulled out as the business did not “get results”.
Two of the directors however stuck to the vision and opted to bail out the shareholders in a buy-out transaction. From 1 December 2019 SACS 90% of SACS will be owned by The High Option Ltd (THO), a public company acquired by Nitesh Amersi and Rudy Maritz of the Cygma Group. The SACS shareholders were given the option to sell 10 shares for 1 share in THO at the value of R2 796 per share. The SACS shareholders with less than 10 shares were not included in the transaction.
The last instruction to sell was received on 1 November which pushed the vote in favour of the buy-back.
Coming full circle
Sheqafrica has come full circle once again and is back in the hands of one of the original buyers when it was first offered on tender by Advantage ACT. However, the Sheqafrica.com magazine will no longer be available. Instead, THO has included Sheqafrica.co.za in its portfolio of Network 9 publications along with the online resources owned by FYI Africa and Africa Media. It is still uncertain which of the three subsidiaries will be the official owner of Sheqafrica.co.za but Network 9 is the exclusive Publication Rights Management company.
Why the battle?
For most people it does not make any sense to invest money in a website, and more so when its readers have no intention to spend money to access its content. But there is a different strategy behind the THO investment, and that is capital growth of the sheqafrica.co.za domain name.
Domain names are like real estate. It has the potential to become like beach front property. The most expensive domain name ever sold has come to light — at $872 million. Yes, you read that right. Cars.com was valued at $872 million.
The most recent top 5 list is below:
CarInsurance.com — $49.7 million
Insurance.com — $35.6 million
VacationRentals.com — $35 million
PrivateJet.com — $30.18 million
Voice.com — $30 million
Content is King
At the time when SACS bought Sheqafrica.com, it was worth $3 350, but it takes time and effort to keep it there. The SACS shareholders were reluctant to contribute to content, which despite how nice your website looks, is all that matters to search engines. Reader numbers dropped from 22 500 in 2018 to just over 3 000 in September. On the flip-side the newsletter subscriptions increased from 5 600 to the latest figure of 16 400.