[dropcap]N[/dropcap]aspers will approach investors in the US and the UK next week about a bond issue as Africa’s biggest company by market value continues its acquisition-hungry quest to expand its Internet businesses.
The proceeds for the bond will shore up the company’s balance sheet for future growth opportunities and will also be used to refinance some of its current debt, Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk said by phone on Saturday.
Although Naspers spends about US$500m on mergers and acquisitions a year, there is no set target and decisions depend on finding the right businesses and opportunities, he said. The Cape Town-based company reported full-year earnings on Friday.
“We are focusing on building online businesses and bringing them to scale,” Van Dijk said. Naspers is looking to invest further in its classifieds, e-commerce and online payment businesses where revenue growth is accelerating, the CEO said.
Naspers, the market leader in classifieds in most of the emerging markets that it operates in, entered the US last year and now competes with well-established businesses such as Craigslist.
The company is seeking to grow outside of a 33% stake in Chinese Internet company Tencent Holdings, which contributes the bulk of Naspers’s $1.8bn profit and is worth more than the South African company’s market value of about $90bn.
“We are quite excited about our growth in our Letgo business in the US,” Van Dijk said. “Since we consolidated with Wallapop, we have become the leader in the number of daily active users in the mobile app space,” he said, referring to the merger of two of the company’s classifieds businesses.
The owner of Africa’s biggest pay-TV service has been able to add subscribers over the past year even as the business struggles with sluggish economic growth and the arrival of competitors including Netflix.
“Sub-Saharan Africa has had a tough few years and our business there also had many challenges,” the CEO said. “So far, it has turned out to be a viable business. Whether that will change in a number of years we will have to see,” Van Dijk said.
Naspers shares rose 2.6% to R2 638.61 on Friday, extending the year’s gain to 31%. The stock is the best performer on the FTSE/JSE Africa Top 40 Index. — Reported by Loni Prinsloo, (c) 2017 Bloomberg LP