BUSINESS and FINANCE

South Africa. Naspers Building the Largest Company in Africa

Naspers1

Naspers is the largest company in Africa by market value. The company has just issued a $1.2 billion bond to go shopping.

 

Down in South Africa, Naspers is silently building the largest company in Africa. The company, which was established in 1915, is silently living up to its slogan ‘winning locally in a globalizing world’. Today, a large percentage of Africans use its services which range from classifieds such as OLX to pay TV services such as DSTV. As if that is not enough, the company has stakes in some of the largest startups in the world such as Flipkart and Wechat. Today, the company is the largest company in Africa by market capitalization.

Naspers was once known for its pay TV services through its DSTV brand. DSTV is Africa’s largest pay TV Company with presence in more than 40 countries. DSTV has been in the continent for more than 20 years and has become famous for broadcasting soccer matches.

In May, following the international migration to digital television, the company introduced a new brand, GoTV which has become a leader in digital TV migration. Going forward, the sector will continue to grow because of the new regulations.

However, the billions the company is receiving from digital migration are not enough. The company has now shifted focus to other sectors in Africa and in other emerging markets.

Earlier this month, the company which has a market cap of R368 billion raised $1.2 billion to fund purchases of online based businesses. The purchases will mostly be in Africa and other emerging market countries such as Brazil and China. The yield on the bonds has fallen to 5.22% (28 basis points) which is less than the global emerging markets corporate bonds which stand at 7.38%. The bonds will mature in 2025.

In a recent update to investors, the company stated that their previous acquisitions are doing very well in all countries. For instance, OLX is currently the most visited websites in most African countries according to metrics company Alexa.

In addition, Konga.com, which the company acquired a 40% stake for $27 million is currently leading the ecommerce space in Nigeria.

Naspers owns companies in a number of categories such as: etail (konga, take a lot, flipkart, esky, and net retail), classifieds (OLX, Avito, and dubizzle), market places (allegro), payment (PayU), Online Services (similar web, red bus, movile, ibibo and goibibo), print (media 24), and other listed companies such as mail.ru and Tencent. The company owns a 34% stake of Tencent which is currently valued at 34% and a 29% of mail.ru, the largest internet company in Russia.

The company’s revenue model includes: Subscription (28%) IVAS & games (30%) Ecommerce (22%) Advertising (9%) Printing & distribution (4%) Other (5%) Technology (2%).

All these ventures have led to a lot of wealth for investors in the company. In the last 1 year, the company’s shares have risen 45.7% and many people believe the company will continue doing well as they start monetizing their platforms such as OLX. To date, OLX is a free service. Investors such as the chairman Kroos Baker have continued to grow their wealth.

However, while the company is doing amazing strides in Africa and emerging markets, some are convinced that the company is not that great. A few months ago, Fitch, a global ratings agency downgraded the company to junk level. This was attributed to the increased spending by the company. The analysis noted that some of the company’s acquisitions might not yield any results in the long run.

“Companies such as OLX does not have a revenue model. Also, anyone can replicate the model making it impossible for the company to realize any revenues from it,” said an analyst at Standard investment bank.

In addition, some of the company’s acquisitions are long term bets. For instance, the company owns a 29% of Flipkart, an ecommerce giant in India and Ibibo. Amazon has announced an aggressive $2 billion entry to the Indian market. Ibibo, a travel company is also going head to head with Kayak, Tripadvisor and Google.

In Africa, the company is also facing competition from some of the growing startups such as Jumia, Kaymu, Jovago and Hellofood. In pay TV segment, the company is facing competition from Chinese company, Startimes and other platforms, most of which don’t have monthly charges.

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