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Nation Media seeks shares in Citizen Newspaper

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October 8, 2011 (JUBA) - The Kenyan-based Nation Media Group (NMG) is currently negotiating with The Citizen newspaper to buy shares, in deal that could see the company acquire major stakes in South’s Sudan’s leading English daily, Sudan Tribune understands.

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Nhial Bol, editor in chief of The Citizen newspaper, narrates his arrest and detention during an interview with Sudan Tribune on 30 September in his Juba office. (Photo: Ngor Garang/ST)

Founded in 1959, NMG has emerged as the largest independent media house in East and Central Africa, having reportedly been quoted on the Nairobi Stock Exchange since the early 1970s. Currently operating in Ugandan and Tanzania, the company has plans to expand to Rwanda and Burundi.

Nhial Bol Aken, The Citizen newspaper’s managing editor confirmed meeting that a meeting with NMG took place in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, but declined to divulge further details, saying both parties were still at the initial stage of negotiations.

“It is true we met a team from the nation media, but what we are looking for is a media partnership with any interested parties. We did not go into the details of what this kind of partnership should entail,” he told Sudan Tribune by phone.

The Citizen, which was founded in 2005, coinciding with a peace agreement between north and South Sudan that year. The publication has run into trouble with the authorities in both Khartoum and Juba, and has in the past been suspended in north Sudan.

In November 2010, The Citizen announced that it was moving its headquarters to Juba. It now prints at a new printing press in Juba a month later.

However, when contacted on Wednesday, Linus Gitahi, NMG’s chief executive officer neither confirmed nor denied the matter, and wondered why the matter was in public interest.

“Who told you that and what is your interest in the matter.....sorry to ask this but our client relationships are confidential,” Gitahi, in an emailed reply, said.

NMG, owned by Agha Khan, currently owns seven newspapers, two television stations and three radio stations, spread across East Africa. The Kenya-based media group appears to be seeking to become the first large media entity to expand to South Sudan after the latter attained its independence exactly three months ago.

(ST)

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