South Africa’s leading multinational media and internet group Naspers CEO Koos Bekker has decided to step down and announced that he will go on a year-long sabbatical to travel and discover growth opportunities for Naspers. In the mean time, Van Dijk will take over from Koos Bekker as the new Chief Executive Officer of Naspers. Van Dijk used to run the e-commerce business for eBay in Germany.
Founded in 1915, Naspers is a leading multinational media and internet group with operations in more than 133 countries. Listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) since September 1994, it also has an ADR listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The group’s principal operations are in e-commerce, pay-television & related technologies and print media. It also has minority investments in listed, integrated social network platforms, Tencent and Mail.ru.
Naspers went from a local language publisher 30 years ago into today’s $48bn multinational company. Through its investments in internet companies, Naspers is a significant digital player in the fast-growing markets. Today in terms of market capitalization, Naspers is the largest media group in the world, outside the US and China.
The outgoing CEO’s achievements
Koos Bekker has been at the helm for the last 17 years. He reinvented the company to take center stage at the biggest internet markets. China’s fastest growing internet company is Tencent which is more than 30 per cent owned by Naspers. Tencent is worth about $124bn which is on par with global giants Facebook, Apple and Google.
Koos said, “I couldn’t have wished for a more interesting life. Now I hope to travel to places like Seoul and San Francisco where the future is being manufactured, and see if there are new technologies we should be trying out. Plus experience a few oddball spots. When Ton (Ton Vosloo, Chairman) steps down, I’ll rejoin the board, hopefully with fresh ideas.”
After a year off traveling the world, Koos Bekker will return in April 2015 as chairman of the media conglomerate.
According to Reuters, Naspers share price has increased around 64-fold since 1994. Naspers is the fifth-most valuable global internet services company, according to Thomson Reuters data. Only Google Inc, Facebook Inc, Tencent and eBay have larger stock market values.
In India, Naspers has been aggressive in investing in the e-commerce business in India. It has acquired redBus; it had invested in India’s e-com darling Flipkart. It had also invested in BuyThePrice.com, which was later acquired by Tradus. Naspers owns Tradus along with Gaadi.com and GoIbibo.com