23/08/2017 11:02 SAST | Updated 23/08/2017 15:24 SAST

The Guptas Are On The Defensive And Shedding Their SA Assets

"It is a proactive defensive strategy to distance themselves from the troublesome assets they hold' -- analyst

RODGER BOSCH via Getty Images

The Guptas are hawking off their South African assets at a rapid rate, seemingly in a bid to distance the family name from controversial business activities exposed in the media.

The family's media interests were the first to go on Monday, with the R450 million sale of The New Age newspaper and ANN7 broadcast news channel to former government spin-doctor Mzwanele "Jimmy" Manyi's company, Lodidox.

It was done through a vendor-financed deal, meaning the Guptas essentially lent Lodidox the purchase price.

Two days later, on Wednesday, the Guptas holding company, Oakbay, announced the sale of Tegeta Exploration and Resources – which has been at the forefront of allegations of corruption with various State-Owned Enterprises like Eskom – to Swiss-based Charles King SA for R2.97 billion.

Experts believe the rapid sale of assets is an indication that the Gupta family may be on the defensive.

Political analyst Daniel Silke said the sale of Gupta assets are an indication that the family is under "extreme pressure" after scandals emanating from leaked emails from within their business empire were exposed in the media.

"This pressure has seemingly resulted in the family wanting to put clear blue water between their business interests and the family name should there be investigations into them," Silke said.

"It is a proactive defensive strategy to distance themselves from the troublesome assets they hold. Whether this will be sufficient to protect themselves is the question."

Silke said the family is creating a layer of defense.

Economist Mike Schussler said the family will still have influence over their business interests, even though they have sold them off.

"One has been wondering with the net closing in, why the Guptas are still so much in charge. They are trying to distance themselves from their business interests but they seem to be financing a lot of the sales, meaning they will have some sort of control and can maneuver things from afar," Schussler said.

"They may be disinvesting directly, but will still keep a form of influence on the South African economy. They are extracting themselves from the political situation in the country."