Naspers CEO considers listing some businesses to reduce size

Naspers is considering the listing of certain parts of its sprawling global media and technology business outside South Africa as the continent’s largest company by market value seeks to reduce its size.

The company takes “very seriously” the difference in value between its stake in Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings and the firm as a whole, Chief Executive Officer Bob Van Dijk said in an interview on Thursday. Naspers’s weighting on Johannesburg’s stock exchange of more than 19% is also too high and forces some investors to reduce their holdings, he added.

That said, Naspers [JSE:NPN] is committed to retaining a primary listing on the JSE, the CEO said in Johannesburg, where he was attending a summit of Brics nations.

“The logical next step would be to list parts of the business to see of we can reduce the overall size,” he said. “We are discussing with our board.”

Naspers has for years ridden the back of an early-stage investment in Tencent that’s paid off many times over. The company has since scoured the globe for opportunities to replicate that success, and has put cash into ventures ranging from online travel agents in India, food delivery in Brazil and education software in the US. There’s still plenty of investment opportunities available, meaning Naspers isn’t considering a buyback, Van Dijk said.

The shares closed trading in Johannesburg at R3 315.28 on Thursday, valuing the company at almost R1.5 trillion ($114bn).

Mobile-payment technology has been identified as a cornerstone of Naspers’s investment strategy, Van Dijk said. The Cape Town-based company will spend “several billions” of dollars in the industry, with the most recent purchase being ZOOZ in Israel. Online education - particularly in skills such as writing code - is another high-potential area, while future markets include technology to help the elderly.

“We believe the world needs tens of millions more software engineers,” Van Dijk said. “Online education is an area we’re really excited about.”

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