Archive for June, 2008

Indefensible: ‘The Independent’ is propped up by Zimbabwe

June 29, 2008

“The Independent (sic) on Sunday” has an absurd lead story today.

The online edition has a different headline.

Blood money: the MPs cashing in on Zimbabwe’s misery

The non-story amounts to a few front bench Tories owning shares in blue-chip British companies. It is unimaginable that Labour ministers don’t have similar interests in the likes of Shell, BP, Rio Tinto or Barclays. The vast majority of British citizens hold a stake in these firms either directly, through a FTSE tracker or via their pension scheme.

The so-called split between Cameron and the top Tories amounts to a quote by Cameron that companies shouldn’t be “propping up” Mugabe’s regime. Do The Independent consider Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to be propping up Tesco’s culling of cut-price clucks?!

Oddly enough the newspaper fails to mention its own connection with comrade Bob’s regime. Yup, Independent News & Media (INM) the parent company of “The Independent” and “The Independent on Sunday” does business in Zimbabwe.

INM run a company called Clear Channel Independent (CCI). Page 12 of INM’s Annual Report states:

CCI is the largest and fastest-growing outdoor advertising company in South Africa — which will host the 2010 FIFA World Cup — with significant operations also in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

INM have owned 50% of CCI since 2001 and bought the remaining 50% earlier this year from the US based Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO). There is a notable absence from CCO’s 10-K annual report regarding its sale of CCI to INM.

On January 17, 2008, we entered into an agreement to sell our equity investment in Clear Channel Independent, an out-of-home advertising company headquartered in South Africa with operations in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia

Only one country missing from this list: Zimbabwe. This 10-K file was filed with the SEC prior to the INM annual report. Either INM have recently started business in Zimbabwe or CCI were rather embarrassed about their company’s involvement in the country.

There are specific webpages set up for CCI’s Zimbabwean operation:
http://www.ccirsa.com/flash%20sites/zimbabwe.html

Contact details for doing business in Zimbabwe are available on the site.

CCI is profitable and effectively subsidising, the loss-making, Independent Newspaper, from page 18 of INM’s annual report:

Clear Channel Independent, had another strong year delivering a near 20% revenue growth in constant currency and strong double-digit profit growth.

It begs the question: have CCI’s billboards or other advertising apparatus been used to promote Robert Mugabe or Zanu-PF?

Kenneth Clarke and Baroness Jay are non-executive directors of Independent News & Media.

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