TIMES Media Group (TMG) said on Friday it had entered into an agreement to sell its 51% stake in mapping company MAP Integration Technologies (mapIT) to TomTom Africa for R37.4m.

TomTom already holds a 49% stake in mapIT.

TMG, which publishes Sunday Times, Sowetan and is in the process of taking control of Business Day, has previously indicated plans to sell noncore assets as part of its turnaround strategy.

TMG said the disposal is categorised as a small related-party transaction and as such shareholder approval is not required in order to implement it.

MapIT provides navigation data and related navigational mapping services and "as such mapIT is not aligned to TMG’s core businesses, being media and retail solutions," the firm said.

The proceeds of the mapIT disposal would be used to "reduce acquisition leverage with respect to future acquisitions more aligned to TMG’s core business," TMG said.

In March, TMG reported diluted headline earnings per share of 28c for the six months to December‚ unchanged from the same period the previous year.

TMG said at the time it had cut its R1.1bn debt by 22%‚ to R898m. This was a sign the new management was generating efficiencies and reducing costs. CEO Andrew Bonamour said that the focus was to reduce the debt further and dispose of noncore assets such as Gallo Records‚ Nu Metro‚ Exclusive Books and Van Schaik.

The group, formerly known as Avusa, was receiving little return on capital from its noncore assets and has already embarked on the sale of various companies in its book-publishing and entertainment divisions.

Mr Bonamour said there was little synergy in the group’s books division‚ which is made up of retail and publishing. In the six months to last December, the books division generated revenue of R756m from R720m the previous period. mapIT was also housed within the books division.

In last year’s annual report, TMG said the mapIT business was transforming from a mapping data provider to a mapping solutions provider. MapIT signed an exclusive distribution agreement for sub-Saharan Africa with deCarta, an independent enabler providing software and services.

© BDlive 2013