Naspers breaks the mould at its centenary AGM
I am very proud that we have jump-started ourselves from our African origins to being a respected and leading player in our line of business worldwide
Naspers, the company that owns City Press, held its 100th annual general meeting in English in Cape Town on Friday.
The language is relevant because Naspers held its first meeting in 1914 in Dutch. It later switched to Afrikaans, but it is now “fully international”, outgoing chairman Ton Vosloo said at the AGM. “From the parochial publisher of 1915, we have now spurted forward to being the top 10 in the internet [sector], with activities in 133 countries. We straddle the globe and I am very proud that we have jump-started ourselves from our African origins to being a respected and leading player in our line of business worldwide.”
He said few South African businesses had successfully made the transition. Naspers now operates internet services, pay TV and print media companies across Europe, China, Russia, Latin America, India, southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It is invested in companies from Tencent, one of the world’s biggest social-media platforms, to MultiChoice and Media24.
Vosloo said Naspers’ transition “has been huge and started 30 years ago when Koos Bekker came into my and Naspers’ life”, referring to CEO Bekker, who has recently stepped down and will replace Vosloo next year.
Vosloo said in the past year Naspers had reported revenue growth of 26% at R62.7 billion, driven by the internet and pay television businesses.
However, investment in expansion had limited earnings growth. “While aggressively investing for the long term limits short-term earnings and cash flows, we believe this strategy is sound,” he said.
Vosloo said the global internet population was now at about 3 billion – almost half the world’s total population.
“E-commerce is taking market share from bricks-andmortar commerce. Technologies such as mobile apps, location-based services, bar code/product identification and image recognition, mobile payments and services will continue to drive ecommerce growth. Over the next decade, e-commerce is expected to emerge as the largest section of the internet in most countries around the world.”
This was reflected in the results. The group’s internet units increased revenue by 65% to R57 billion, but high development spend restricted trading profit growth to 8%. Revenue from e-commerce activities rose 64% to R20.3 billion, but development spend resulted in a R5.3 billion trading loss.
Pay TV revenue grew 20% to R36.3 billion. Print media, which was its main source of revenue and profit in the old days, showed “flat revenue and declining margins”. Media24 managed revenue growth of 1%, but trading profit dropped 7%.
– Staff reporter