MK switches his sights to the joys of Bacchus
THE food and liquor industries are a diversification for MK Malefane, who is better known in the television and movie industry as founder and head of Rainbow Television.
This week, his company, Maluti Foods & Beverages, announced a R30-million joint venture with Stellenbosch Farmers' Winery which will see Maluti acquire and develop the Papkuilsfontein Vineyards near Darling, in the Cape.
Malefane, who was born in SA but has spent a number of years in the US, has focused on media and entertainment for the past 12 years. He learnt the basics of the industry in Hollywood, where he was enrolled in the UCLA graduate producers programme under the mentorship of Peter Guber, producer of Rain Man, Gorillas in the Mist and Batman.
Asked at the time what he hoped to achieve, Malefane said he wanted "to bring Hollywood to Africa". His launch, 12 years ago, of pan-African private TV network Rainbow Television was the start of this dream.
Building up alliances with Time Warner, Sweden's Kinnevick, Australia's Nine Network and SA entrepreneurs and community groups, Rainbow was touted as one of the front runners for SA's private television station. But at the 11th hour, Rainbow pulled out of the bid. Malefane says Rainbow had applied to the IBA and parliament to extend the closing date and was assured this was so, but the date was then brought forward. Malefane is critical of the process, and says Rainbow's wasn't "the typical rent-a-darkie bid" but a serious attempt at bringing in black ownership and participation. He decided not to participate in the bid, but says Rainbow will establish a service provision infrastructure for local production and co-productions with international players. "We are still assessing the situation and remain committed to developing the industry."
Maluti Foods & Beverages presented him with the chance to launch a company focusing on the food and liquor industries. The SFW joint venture is its first major deal. Maluti is involved in other negotiations, but Malefane is reluctant to talk about them.
The new venture will be 50% owned by SFW, while Maluti will have 35% and a community trust the remaining 15%.
Maluti largely comprises liquor retailers, including taverners and shebeeners.
It is envisaged that the new company will grow 250ha of premium quality grapes at the Papkuilsfontein Vineyards, which will yield 2 500 tons of grapes in full production. The 1 000ha farm has 130ha of established vineyards.
It will take years before Maluti derives the full benefits of the venture, but it will start to bear fruit this year, when it will produce its own labels and launch a premium brandy.
The R30-million joint venture includes a R15-million purchase of the farm and working and development capital to establish and run the vineyards. As start-up capital is repaid, SFW will reduce its shareholding. It is expected it will take Maluti 12 years to repay the SFW loan.
In terms of the agreement, 80% of the harvest will be sold to Nederburg and SFW, while the balance can be used by the Vineyard to produce wine under its own label.
Malefane's new business venture comes on the eve of his 40th birthday, which he celebrates later this month.
Born in Soweto, his family left South Africa. He returned into similar turmoil in 1976.
After matriculating that year, Malefane became a professional artist. Although he was "somewhat of a hippie", he has also been active in politics.
He was personal aide to the Mandela family from 1980 to 1985 and was instrumental in the formation of the UDF.
Malefane, who is married with two daughters, likes to mix work with leisure. "Although I live in Sandton, I spend time in the townships and the shebeens." He also likes tennis and spends a lot of time networking, but hasn't taken up golf yet.