Africa’s biggest company Naspers adds Nigeria, Turkey to ‘BRICS’ as China, Russia lose some shine

S. African giant owns 34% of Chinese Internet provider Tencent, has online interests in about 40 countries and is Africa’s biggest seller of pay TV.

NASPERS Ltd. is rewriting the “BRICS” acronym to include Nigeria and Turkey among the world’s best emerging markets as China and Russia lose some luster with Africa’s most valuable company.

“India features high both in our development spend and our M&A spend, as well as Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil and Turkey,” the media company’s Chief Executive Officer Bob van Dijk said in an interview on Tuesday.

“Those are markets that are very rapidly growing, particularly the online Internet population and we believe that provides opportunity.”

Naspers boosted development spending by about 33% to 10.7 billion rand ($870 billion) as it continues expanding its TV and online retail businesses in the year through March, Van Dijk said.

Adjusted net income rose by 30% to 11.2 billion rand on growth from Tencent Holdings Ltd. and online retail, according to its full-year results on Monday.

The Cape Town-based company is scouring the globe for its next Internet bet as consumers shift to smart devices from computers.

Naspers, which owns 34% of Chinese Internet operator Tencent, has online-service interests in about 40 countries and is Africa’s biggest seller of pay TV.

“We’ll invest significantly in e-commerce because we want to further grow our leadership there and we’ll also continue investment in digital terrestrial TV,” Van Dijk said. “If we see new models that are very encouraging we’ll put investment behind those.”

Ukraine crisis

Revenue growth was driven by the investments in Tencent and Russian Internet company Group Ltd., while sales from its online retail unit rose 36% to 27.8 billion rand., which is 29% owned by Naspers, has fallen more than 40% since the start of the Ukraine crisis.

“In local ruble terms, the company has performed reasonably well given the turmoil that it has in the market,” he said. “If you look at the ruble, there is obviously a very strong correlation to the oil price.”

Naspers added 727,000 satellite TV users, giving almost 8 million subscribers access to English Premier League soccer and dramas such as Game of Thrones. The company is producing more African content and more than doubled its digital terrestrial TV users to 2.2 million as African governments switch off analogue signals.

“We are increasing our investment in local content,” the CEO said. “There are several global players that definitely have ambition in every single continent, also in ours. What we’re trying to do is build the best local proposition.”

Naspers shares were up 1.5% to 1,868 rand at 12:26 p.m. in Johannesburg on Tuesday, boosting the year’s gain to 23% and valuing the company at 784 billion rand.


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