Naspers, Africa’s largest public company, said on Friday its core headline earnings in the six months to end-September grew 39% to $1.7bn (R23bn), thanks to its interest in China’s Tencent and a healthier e-commerce business.

“Naspers executed well in the first half of the 2019 financial year, generating group revenue, measured on an economic-interest basis, of $11bn,” the group said. That represents revenue growth of 23%.

The e-commerce business, into which Naspers has been investing heavily using funds from MultiChoice and Tencent, reduced trading losses “materially”.

The classifieds unit turned profitable while trading-loss margins in online retail and payments narrowed considerably as revenues grew, the company said.

At the end of September, Naspers was sitting on a cash pile of $8.7bn thanks to the sale of its 12% stake in Indian e-commerce company Flipkart and the disposal of some of its Tencent shares earlier in the year.

At 3.30pm, Naspers shares on the JSE were up 1.02% to R2,848.74.