Netflix rival iflix sells African business to local partner Econet Global Limited

iflix CEO Mark Britt, image distributed by iflix.

On-demand video streaming startup iflix, an emerging markets rival to Netflix, has effectively pulled out of Africa after selling its business in the region to telco group Econet Global Limited.

According to an official statement, the deal sees telecoms firm Econet buying the Malaysia-based iflix’ remaining stake in iflix Africa, to add to its existing significant stake in the company.

The deal size or details were not disclosed. Post the deal, iflix’s footprint comes down to 23 countries, largely across Southeast Asia and West Asia.

The initial investment by Econet came in early in 2018, eight months after iflix first the launch of its service in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in June 2017.

The investment saw the two companies join forces to expand iflix Africa, later rebranded as Kwesé iflix, into East and Southern Africa.

Kwesé iflix offers viewers across the region the most extensive combination of live sport, entertainment and highly acclaimed local African and international series and movies, including first-to-market exclusive programming.

For Econet, which is an international group with pan-African origins, the completion of this transaction follows its recently announced decision to de-emphasise its Kwesé TV direct-to-home service in order to refocus the business towards a digital future.

“The conclusion of our acquisition of iflix Africa, is a natural progression for our revised business strategy as a Group, particularly the Kwesé business which offers premium broadcasting services. With the immense growth and positive uptake of VOD and OTT services across the continent, we believe connected services – particularly mobile – is the future of broadcasting in Africa,” said Econet CEO Hardy Pemhiwa.

According to iflix co-founder and CEO Mark Britt, the sale of its African business signals the firm’s commitment to focus on its core markets in Asia.

“The acquisition by the Econet Group, our regional partner and Africa’s leading broadcast network, is a significant milestone for the African business, and further reinforces iflix’s commitment to our core markets in Asia, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines which continue to grow from strength to strength,” he said.

In a move to enhance its service in Southeast Asia, iflix last month announced strategic partnerships with Globe Telecom from the Philippines and PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel) from Indonesia to expand its offerings on content distribution.

iflix and Globe Telecom will co-produce a slate of all new original content aimed at Filipino audience, while the partnership with Telkomsel will allow subscribers will get access to iflix content at a specific rate.

The Kuala Lumpur-headquartered company last raised $133 million in September 2017 in a round led by US-based Hearst Communications and Singapore-based EDBI as well as clients of DBS Private Bank.

In an interview with DEALSTREETASIA earlier this year, CEO Britt said the company will be looking to raise at least two more financing rounds before it considers going public.

Also Read:

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Guest post: iflix now treading deep waters

Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.