Naspers reports hefty rise in profit

South African media and e-commerce behemoth Naspers reported a massive 72 percent rise in annual profit on the back of yet another imperious showing from Tencent.

South African media and e-commerce behemoth Naspers reported a massive 72 percent rise in annual profit on the back of yet another imperious showing from Chinese platform Tencent.

Founded more than 100 years ago in Stellenbosch, South Africa, Naspers has transformed itself from a newspaper publisher into Africa’s biggest company, a $104 billion behemoth with private equity-style investments in e-commerce platforms such as auction sites, classified and online retail.

Naspers raised around $10 billion from the sale of a two percent stake in the Tencent juggernaut earlier this year and retains a roughly 30 percent stake in it. in Tencent, which is worth $149 billion, or roughly 40 percent more than Naspers. The South African firm also brought in $1.6 billion from the sale of its 11 percent stake in Indian e-commerce start-up Flipkart in May.

Naspers core headline earnings totalled $2.5 billion, or 581 cents per share, in the year ended March compared with $1.5 billion, or 337 cents per share, a year earlier.

Dutch CEO Bob van Dyk, who took the reins in 2014, has ruled out offloading the Tencent stake, plans to also deploy its $8.2 billion (R110  billion) war chest to step up growth in its e-commerce ventures, its chief executive said, part of a push to cut the company’s dependence on Tencent.

Van Dyk said in a statement.:

“We will use our strong balance sheet to accelerate the growth of our classifieds, food delivery and FinTech businesses globally. Also to pursue other growth opportunities when they arise.”

Basil Sgourdos was appointed financial director of Naspers in July 2014.  A qualified chartered accountant, he worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc. from 1989 to 1994, before taking up opportunities at various divisions of Naspers.