Naspers CEO Plans Growth of Internet Business as PayTV Declines

  • Africa’s biggest company looks for acquisition opportunities
  • CEO says pay-TV business will take some years to recover

Naspers Ltd. is seeking to further boost its international internet business as it grapples with falling PayTV subscription numbers in sub Saharan Africa.

The company, which usually spends half a billion dollars a year on acquisitions, is “on the lookout” for more deals, Chief Executive Officer Bob Van Dijk said in a phone interview on Saturday, without giving further information on potential targets.

Bob Van Dijk

Photographer: Graeme Williams/Bloomberg

Naspers, Africa’s biggest company by market value, said on Friday that adjusted net income -- its main measure of profit -- rose 21 percent to $1.2 billion in the 12 months through March. The company has transformed itself from a South African newspaper publisher into a continent-wide multi-media provider and backer of emerging-market internet businesses. It now counts on internet businesses for about 70 percent of revenue.

Naspers has benefited from an early investment in Tencent Holdings Ltd, in which it owns a 34 percent stake. It also owns Africa’s biggest pay-TV network, DSTV. The pay-TV business has been struggling, with subscription numbers falling by 288,000 in 2016.

“We have also lost a lot of subscribers in the last year in sub Saharan Africa, people have just not been able to afford it,” Van Dijk said. “We bill in local currencies, but our costs are in dollars. It is quite painful when the currencies are running in the wrong direction.”

The company has frozen prices and says it expects a difficult few years in sub Saharan Africa.

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