Naspers breaks the mould at its cen­te­nary AGM

CityPress - - Business -

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

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