Picture: BLOOMBERG
Picture: BLOOMBERG

Naspers wants to spend about $1bn in India this year as it scours the globe for investments that can replicate its blockbuster bet on China’s Tencent, a person familiar with the matter said.

Africa’s largest company by market value is in talks to inject about $200m into business loan provider Capital Float and payments security firm Wimbo as a first step, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions, who asked not to be identified as the talks were private. A Naspers representative declined to comment.

Naspers is the largest shareholder in gaming and social media giant Tencent and has about $9bn in cash after trimming its stake in 2018 and selling Indian e-commerce startup Flipkart to Walmart.

Surging smartphone adoption has led to explosive growth in fintech and e-commerce in India and a host of local startups are vying with US giants Amazon.com, Alphabet’s Google and Facebook for a slice of the action.

Some of Naspers’s biggest Indian investments have focused on food delivery.

It took some of the proceeds from selling down its Tencent holding to lead a $1bn funding round for Bangalore-based online food company Swiggy in December.

Part of 2019's $1bn Indian investment drive could see Naspers increase its presence in food delivery, one of the people said.

Naspers shares have gained 13% this year, valuing the company at R1.4-trillion.

The group spun off Africa pay-TV provider MultiChoice Group in February to focus on its internet and technology investments.

Bloomberg