Naspers

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Naspers Limited
Public
Traded asJSE: NPN
IndustryEcommerce, Internet, Media
GenreMedia
Founded12 May 1915; 103 years ago (1915-05-12)
HeadquartersCape Town, South Africa
Area served
Global
Key people
Koos Bekker (Chair)
Bob van Dijk (CEO)
RevenueIncrease R73.1 billion (FY 2015)[1]
Increase R1.6 billion (FY 2015)[1]
Websitenaspers.com

Naspers is a broad-based multinational internet and media group headquartered in South Africa, offering services in more than 130 countries. Its principal operations are in internet communication, entertainment, gaming and e-commerce. It was founded in 1915 in South Africa by Jannie Marais of Coetsenburg and W.A. Hofmeyr with the support of Jan Christiaan Smuts, Louis Botha and National Party founding president J.B.M. Hertzog.

Naspers made an early investment in Chinese internet company Tencent which turned out to be extraordinarily successful; as of 2018, Naspers has an approximately 31% stake in Tencent, and is, by far, the largest shareholder of Tencent stock.[2] Its investment in Tencent also appears to be the main driver of the value of its own stock, and has since overshadowed the operational aspects of the Naspers business. It has also made less notable investments in other technology companies.

History[edit]

De Nationale Pers Beperkt[edit]

Naspers building in the Cape Town CBD

Naspers was founded in 1915 under the name De Nasionale Pers Beperkt (National Press Ltd) as a publisher and printer of newspapers and magazines.[3][4] A group of prominent Cape Afrikaners decided in December 1914 at a meeting in Stellenbosch to form a publishing company that would support Afrikaner nationalism.[5]:290 It was founded by W. A. Hofmeyr, a well-known Cape lawyer and National Party organiser. Jannie Marais, a prominent Stellenbosch farmer purchased a quarter of the 20,000 £1 shares in the new company.[5]:290 Naspers first published the Afrikaans language daily De Burger (later renamed Die Burger) in June 1915 which was followed by its first magazine De Huisgenoot (later Die Huisgenoot) in 1916.[6]

In 1918 the company added book publishing to its portfolio, making it one of Africa's most significant media hubs at the time. In 1985 the company launched the first pay-TV system in the region, M-Net, which marked the company's development from a publisher into a media company.[6]

Documents collected by non-profit Open Secrets revealed how Naspers funded the National Party during apartheid and that the National Party also held 74,000 shares in Naspers in 1984.

In a letter written to FW de Klerk on 17 August 1989, then Naspers Managing Director Ton Vosloo reaffirmed the company’s support of the NP. Vosloo reminded De Klerk of a donation of R150,000 (approximately R1-million today) made to the NP before the 1987 elections. He also pledged a further R220,000 in support of the NP ahead of South Africa’s last race-based general elections in September 1989. Vosloo ended his letter, promising funding to the NP in Transvaal by adding that “our newspaper Beeld in the Transvaal is your ally and we trust that this formidable combination will wipe out the competition”[7]

In 1997 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission requested that Naspers make a submission about the years between 1960 and 1994 (thus broadly between the Sharpeville tragedy in March 1960 and the first democratic elections in April 1994), and specifically the media’s role in this period. Naspers refused to comply, which led to 127 Naspers employees each making an individual submission to the TRC apologising for their role in the apartheid years. They said Naspers newspapers had formed an integral part of the power structure which implemented and maintained apartheid through, for instance, supporting the NP in elections and referendums.[8][9]

It was only in 2015 that Media24 CEO Esmare Weideman apologised for Naspers’s role in supporting apartheid.[10]

Public company[edit]

Since 1994, the company has been listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in South Africa and has designated to be part of the Top 10 index over the past number of years. They also have a Level I American Depository Receipt programme (ADR programme) listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and trade on an over-the-counter (OTC) basis. International investors account for around 50% of their shareholder base.[citation needed]

Nasionale Pers officially changed its name to the currently used 'Naspers' in 1998.[6]

Tencent investment[edit]

Naspers made its initial investment in Chinese internet company Tencent, then a start-up, in 2001. The investment paid off for Naspers in dramatic fashion, boosting the Naspers stock price over time,[11] making it the most valuable publicly traded business in Africa by 2017. It sold a part of its stake in March 2018, raising some $10 billion. At that time, its initial investment of $32 million had ballooned to a stake worth over $175 billion.[12] Notably, the market value of its Tencent holdings was greater than the market capitalization of the firm itself. The move has been referred to as one of the most successful venture capital investments of all time.[13]

Other ventures[edit]

Myriad International Holdings, a subsidiary of Naspers, owns a 28.7% stake in Digital Sky Technologies (DST), the Russian firm behind investments in notable Internet companies like Facebook, Groupon, and Zynga.In March 2014, Souq.com raised $75 million from Naspers.[14] Over two rounds in May and September 2017, Naspers invested 1.05 billion euros ($1.2 billion) in Germany’s Delivery Hero AG, and has been involved in 14 deals worth $1.94 billion this year alone, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.[15]

Post Anglo Boer War involvement[edit]

The original reason for the founding of Naspers was to empower the impoverished Afrikaner nation after the devastation of the Anglo Boer War.[16] It therefore also supported the Nationalist Party (NP).[17]

Criticism[edit]

On 26 May 2017, Naspers subsidiary DStv admitted to price fixing and contravening the Competition Act. In a deal struck with the competition commission, the entity agreed to pay R22 million in penalty fees as well as R8 million to the Economic Development Fund. The commission found that the practices restricted competition among the competing companies as they did not independently determine a price.[18]

Brands and subsidiaries[edit]

Major brands owned by Naspers include:

It also has minority investments in listed, integrated social-network platforms Tencent (SEHK 0700) and Mail.ru (LSE: MAIL).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Home - - Naspers Integrated Annual Report 2015". www.naspers-reports.com.
  2. ^ "TENCENT HOLDINGS LTD (0700)". August 31, 2018.
  3. ^ "Naspers website: Our history". Company history. Naspers. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  4. ^ "Apartheid Inc, the story of Naspers, Media24 and Channel Life". Media Alternatives. 15 November 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  5. ^ a b Pretorius, Fransjohan (2014). A History of South Africa: From the Distant Past to the Present Day. Hatsfield, Pretoria: Protea Book House. ISBN 978-1-86919-908-1.
  6. ^ a b c "Apartheid Inc. – Profile of a racist corporation, June 9, 2010". History Matters. 22 January 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  7. ^ "Declassified: Apartheid profits – the tap root of the National Party". Daily Maverick.
  8. ^ Rabe, Lizette. "Chronicle of a coming of age? A media-historiographical revisit: The TRC, Naspers and Afrikaans journalism". litnet.co.za.
  9. ^ "NASPERS JOURNALISTS APOLOGISE FOR APARTHEID ROLE". www.justice.gov.za.
  10. ^ Etheridge, Jenna. "Naspers apologises for its role in apartheid". news24.com.
  11. ^ "Koos Bekker to Naspers' shareholders: You're richer because of Tencent - BizNews.com". BizNews.com. 2017-08-28. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
  12. ^ "South Africa's Naspers cashes in $10bn Tencent stake". March 23, 2018.
  13. ^ "Tencent's 60,000% Runup Leads to One of the Biggest VC Payoffs Ever". Bloomberg Businessweek. March 22, 2018.
  14. ^ Nair, Dinesh (14 April 2015). "Tiger-Backed Souq.com Said Worth $1 Billion in Fundraising". Bloomberg. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  15. ^ "Naspers lines up billions for tech investments". Economic Times.
  16. ^ "Naspers Ltd. History". Funding Universe.
  17. ^ Lizette, Rabe (2014-07-17). "From 'people's press' to global superstar". The Media Online.
  18. ^ Lindeque, Mia. "DStv agrees to pay R22m penalty for price fixing". Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  19. ^ "This Craigslist Copycat Gets a Lift From Russia's Recession". 15 March 2016 – via www.bloomberg.com.
  20. ^ 4-traders. "Naspers Limited company : Shareholders, managers and business summary | Johannesburg Stock Exchange: NPNJ.N | 4-Traders". www.4-traders.com. Retrieved 2017-06-28.

External links[edit]