Naspers hatches continental growth plan

Published Oct 10, 2019


JOHANNESBURG – Naspers said on Tuesday that it had created $10 billion (R152bn) in additional value following the successful listing of its Prosus on Euronext Amsterdam last month.

Chief executive Bob van Dijk said that the group managed to increase shareholder value after offloading non-core assets to become a full-fledged consumer internet company.

Van Dijk said the group was now planning to expand its reach into Africa, with the main focus being its home market of South Africa and Kenya.

He said there was an increase for potential growth on the African continent due to the speed at which people had adopted smartphones and as data costs decreased.

“South Africa is ahead of the rest of the continent, but the wave will come, making Africa an investment destination,” he said.

He said Naspers was still focusing on entering partnerships to grow its footprint globally.

Van Dijk said the group had now delivered on its five-year transformation plan to streamline the business.

Naspers had divested $6bn in non-core assets since 2015, spun off MultiChoice with a $3.5bn listing completed in March, and deployed $9bn in 150-plus quality growth investment rounds.

Van Dijk said the group had invested more than $2bn in its new food segment over the past three years. 

He said Mr D Food in South Africa was growing rapidly.

“If you look at India and China, people are changing the way they eat and source ingredients.” 

Van Dijk said PayU, the Naspers-owned fintech firm that specialises in emerging markets, was still committed to its Facebook Libra platform despite regulatory hurdles.

In South Africa Naspers owns online retailers Takealot and Superbalist; payments and fintech, PayU; classifieds-OLX, AutoTrader, FrontierCarGroup and Mr Delivery.

Naspers SA chief executive Phuti Mahanyele-Dabengwa said that the group was planning to invest at least R1.4bn in information technology start-ups in the next three years to extend its dominance in the sector.

Mahanyele-Dabengwa said that the investments would be done through the group’s subsidiary, Naspers Foundry, to look for attractive opportunities focused on supporting founders of local tech businesses with growth potential and ambitions to scale globally such as serving the unbanked.

She cited Naspers Foundry’s R30 million investment in SweepSouth, the online platform providing on-demand and regular home cleaning services as a successful example of a partnership.

“As we move forward, how are we harnessing technology for growth in South Africa?” Mahanyele-Dabengwa said. “Things have changed in South Africa when you look at mobile technology and the internet of things. As a group we are looking at ways to answer to every South African, how can we be of service to you.”

Mahanyele-Dabengwa insisted that while Naspers would continue to look for opportunities abroad it remained committed to South Africa.

“We are committed to impacting the local environment in a responsible manner,” she said. 

“We have been here for more than 100 years and remain committed to South Africa with our primary listing on the JSE.” Naspers shares closed 0.81 percent lower at R2 240.45 on the JSE on Tuesday.


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