Naspers trims Tencent stake, eyes FinTech investment

Naspers has raised $9.8bn (about R116bn) from the sale of shares in Chinese internet giant Tencent

Naspers has raised $9.8bn (about R116bn) from the sale of shares in Chinese internet giant Tencent, it announced on Friday.

Naspers’s 2001 investment in Tencent is often cited as one of the shrewdest moves in the technology market. It paid $31m for its initial 47% stake, which has since been diluted, but the South African group coming under shareholder  pressure in recent months to find ways to narrow its hefty discount to Tencent.

The news that Naspers would sell down its stake came just a day after Tencent reported that although profits had doubled in the three months to end-December, revenue grew slower than expected, at 51% year on year. 

Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk said the proceeds of the share sale would be used to bolster the group’s balance sheet and for investments in its classifieds, online food delivery and FinTech businesses. The funds could also be used “to pursue other exciting growth opportunities when they arise”.

The group said it would not sell any more Tencent shares for at least three years.

Naspers chairman Koos Bekker (pictured) said while Tencent “is one of the very best growth enterprises in any industry in the world”, Naspers wanted to fund the growth of some of its core business segments.

“We want to consolidate some market positions, accelerate growth and bring a few businesses to self-funding status faster with additional support,” Bekker said.

Tencent chairperson Pony Ma said in a statement that Naspers has been a “steadfast strategic partner over a great many years”. 

“Tencent respects and understands Naspers’ decision and looks forward to continuing to work closely together in building a mutually supportive and prosperous future for both companies.”