Cash-flush Naspers has an open road for its ambitions
The internet group is sitting on a sizeable cash pile after selling its entire stake in Flipkart and cutting its stake in Tencent
Internet group Naspers will continue to scour the globe for online investments following its R1.4bn injection into used-car company Webuycars, says CEO Bob van Dijk.
The investment was done by Naspers’s classifieds business, OLX Group.
Naspers is sitting on a sizeable cash pile after selling its entire stake in India’s Flipkart for $2.2bn (about R33bn) and raising HK$77bn (about R146bn) by cutting its stake in Tencent.
"The reason why we freed up that money was because we saw so much opportunity in our three core pillars [classifieds, online food delivery and fintech]. And we said we have more ambition than we can fund," Van Dijk said on Tuesday.
"Webuycars fits exactly with what we want to do … in classifieds, we realised that people want more convenience, some people don’t want to go through the trouble of selling things themselves," he said.
Webuycars, which offers a car-buying service to sellers, would "work together" with the group’s Autotrader classifieds business, Van Dijk said.
In the automotive segment, Naspers already has investments in Dubai-based companies Expat Wheels and WeCashAnyCar and in multinational used-car marketplace Frontier Car Group.
"One of the reasons we’re so excited about Webuycars is we’ve done a similar transaction in the Emirates, and based on the lead generation we saw that business actually quadruple in size in a year. There’s enormous synergy between people who are selling a car and the [classifieds] model."
The deal follows Naspers’s announcement on Monday that it would unbundle its pay-TV business, MultiChoice, onto the JSE in the first half of 2019.
The group plans to pass its interest in the DStv operator to its shareholders.
Van Dijk said Naspers was no longer heavily dependent on MultiChoice’s cash flows for its investments into other companies. "In the past year and a bit, our losses in e-commerce have come down quite rapidly, and that was the biggest consumer of those MultiChoice dividends.
"And so as that business is turning, and we think that trajectory is going to continue, we will need less of that cash."
Thanks to the Tencent and Flipkart share sales, the group also had "a firm balance sheet at the moment".
Vestact said in a note to clients on Tuesday that based on rudimentary calculations, the money manager estimated that for each Naspers share, investors "will get around R150 in MultiChoice value".
"We endorse this decision [to split]," Vestact said.
"They no longer need the cash from MultiChoice and this may also give them room to list elsewhere, which could unlock even more value."
Van Dijk said on Monday Naspers was still keen on SA, having spent about R3.3bn in the country over the past year, prior to the Webuycars deal.