Naspers, one of Africa's and the world's largest consumer Internet investment companies, has highlighted its plans to continue focussing on consumer Internet investments specifically in the FinTech, food delivery platforms, and online classifieds sectors. This was emphasized by Bob van Dijk, CEO at Naspers, who also pointed out that the company is now one of the top 10 Internet companies in the world with a market capitalization of $107 billion as of March 2019.

One of the activities that have fast-tracked Naspers' plans to become a fully fledged Internet-only investment company is it's recent unbundling of shares it held in MultiChoice as a result of the cable and satellite TV company listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) earlier in 2019.

Although some media commentators have commented that the $4 billion unbundling of MultiChoice from Naspers was more them dumping the cable and satellite TV company rather than them strategically unbundling it, Van Dijk did also shed some light on their portfolio of investments which, as he stated, consists 100% Internet companies in the e-commerce, payments, social, and games sectors.

Naspers transforming into an Internet-only investment company

However, the question of Naspers' Media24 holdings, which in turn owns several newspapers in circulation in South Africa, arises. Van Dijk also touched on this explaining that from their data, the trend is that more people are reading news from the Media24 news websites and apps rather than the newspapers, making the contribution of the newspapers relatively ignorable in the bigger picture of their portfolio.

This transformation of Napsers, which has been happening for over a decade, into an Internet-only focussed company can also be seen in their newly launched Naspers Foundry initiative.  Plans for Naspers Foundry were first announced by the company at the inaugural South Africa Investment Conference which took place in Johannesburg on 26 October 2018.

As part of Naspers Foundry, the company has said it has allocated R1,4 billion over the next 3 years towards investing in South African startups.

The future

Without a doubt, Naspers is one of not only the largest but most important Internet companies in the world. Although many know them more for their early and profitable investment into Chinese Internet investment company, Tencent, they have also grown their Internet investments globally beyond Tencent, making them one of the top ten Internet companies in the world as also echoed by Van Dijk.

Although this is the case, their investment ride hasn't been all smooth sailing especially across the rest of Africa. Early in 2018, they closed their online classifieds businesses in Kenya and Nigeria along with selling their stake in a Nigerian e-commerce company, Konga. This, perhaps, gave us a small glimpse into how ready Naspers believes the rest of the continent, excluding South Africa where they've invested over $100 million into an e-commerce company such as takealot, is for large investments to scale their Internet business.

One thing we do know and Van Dijk touched on, is that they have a keen interest in continuing to invest in Asia.


Cover image credit: Bob van Dijk, CEO at Naspers.

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