Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

Romania’s largest online retailer eMAG, owned by Africa’s biggest company, Naspers, is considering an initial public offering (IPO) in Bucharest and probably on another exchange too.

The potential IPO would come after eMAG posted three consecutive years of profit and boosted revenue to more than €1bn (about R16.48bn) in 2019, CEO and minority shareholder Iulian Stanciu said in Bucharest. He declined to give details about the potential timing or the size of the planned offering.

“It’s not about raising funds but for Naspers it’s rather recognising the value” of eMAG, Stanciu said. “A company cannot be a unicorn without a public market value.”

Naspers acquired a majority stake in eMAG in 2012 when its revenue was about €140m. The online retailer employs more than 5,000 people and has plans to expand across Eastern Europe, where strong wage growth is boosting consumption. The company merged with Hungarian rival Extreme Digital in 2019 and has plans to enter Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, according to the CEO.

Naspers’s shares fell 1% at 2.42pm in Johannesburg on Monday.

An IPO by the country’s largest online retailer would benefit the Bucharest Stock Exchange, which has been struggling to boost liquidity after it was upgraded to emerging-market status by FTSE Russell in 2019 and is vying to win a similar upgrade from MSCI.

“The Bucharest market is not big but that’s also because we’re not there,” Stanciu said. He said eMAG would most likely consider a dual listing, without specifying the other exchange.

Bloomberg