Naspers CEO outlines road ahead

Cape Town - Naspers [JSE:NPN] has been very good about delivering return for its investors in the last two decades and the global media player aims to do just that with the investments it is currently making.

Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk told Fin24 that although there is a perception that Naspers is operating in very aggressive markets that will always require spend, the reality is that the markets the company is addressing are very attractive.

"So tremendous growth... and capturing that growth tends to go with the investments we are making."

Naspers on Monday posted a 2% drop in earnings per share at R21.81, but showed consolidated revenue growth of 26% to R62.7bn, which was fuelled by a 79% increase in development spend of R7.7bn.

Van Dijk also said Naspers has $1.6bn (R16.86bn) in cash offshore that it can spend partially on acquisitions and for development of existing businesses, according to Reuters.

A staggering R57bn of this revenue came from electronic media, including e-commerce (e-tail, classifieds and payments), email services ( and online gaming (Tencent).

On whether the dependency on Tencent and is bordering on dangerous, Van Dijk said in terms of value it might be biased towards Tencent, but in terms of revenue it is quite a bit more diverse.

"As a global company, we have to look at the internet markets around the world.

"China is the largest internet market in the world, ahead of the US, ahead of everyone else by far.  And as a company that's focused on the internet,  exposure to China is not a risk but a phenomenal opportunity.

"Russia is a similar story... very large population, internet penetration usage growing and we believe in it (the market).

"This doesn't mean we exclude other markets. In the developed markets we will look at the right opportunities, but the reality is the opportunity in e-commerce and internet in emerging markets is really, really strong. And we believe that we have certain operating experience in these emerging markets."

Van Dijk said there is also opportunity in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

He saw a recent investment by a US investment firm in Takealot as a sign of great growth potential in e-tail in South Africa. "We know the e-tail model very well and have invested significantly in We believe we are in a position to compete very well in the local market and as illustrated by the competition,  there is great growth potential in SA."

He said Naspers is also keen to roll out the e-tail model to the rest of Africa. "As markets mature we see similar potential (as for Asia and Eastern Europe) over time on the African continent."

Naspers already has investments in Konga in Nigeria and OLX in Kenya and Nigeria.

On rumours about selling off units like Media24, Van Dijk said it is pure speculation. "We have no plans to sell it off. That article on Moneyweb in particular is just pure speculation.

"Media24 is delivering profit to the group and is managing to adjust well to some tough conditions. I'm happy with Media24."

Van Dijk also soothed concerns of a possible move of the Naspers headquarters from Cape Town to Amsterdam and a possible move of the listing from the JSE.

"I am often in Cape Town.  In the last six months I have been in Cape Town eight times, so that should be the rhythm I think.

"As with any global company, the executive team is required to travel a lot. I travel about 90% of my time... to Hong Kong, Eastern Europe and Latin America. It is convenient to travel from where I'm situated, Hoofddorp. The centre of our classifieds business is also here.

"So there is no intention to move headquarters from one place to another, but we'll keep a strong presence in Cape Town, Hong Kong and Hoofddorp. Senior people will have to travel... this is the reality of running a global company.

"About the listing, there is absolutely no plans to change listing."

- Fin24

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