It is worth revisiting the history of Naspers. Launched in 1915 as a newspaper, the South Africa-based company has a pay TV business and 50 domestic newspaper titles but its move to invest in technology companies changed its contours. In 2001, the company invested $32 million for 46.5% stake in Tencent, which was then just three years old. Though over the years, Naspers pared its holding in the Chinese internet powerhouse, the residual 30% is worth $120 billion.
Early this year, Naspers listed Prosus, the vehicle wherein the media giant has parked all its strategic investments, including stakes in Tencent, Russian social media company Mail.ru Group and German food delivery service Delivery Hero, on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange, ranking it among the global top 10 consumer internet conglomerates with a market cap of $134 billion.
The transition of that traditional media company into a new age digital media investment powerhouse is not lost on Vivekanand Subbaraman, who tracks the media and internet space at Ambit Capital. “Naspers was a newspaper company that diversified into classifieds and started investing globally. Similarly, Axel Springer and Schibsted too invested large sums in their classified business and eventually cannibalized their own newsprint business,” mentions Subbaraman.
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