Picture: BLOOMBERG
Picture: BLOOMBERG

The JSE is set for a shake-up as SA’s largest public company prepares to list its offshore assets in Europe.

Naspers, which has faced repeated calls from investors to find ways to unlock value, said on Monday it planned to list its non-SA internet operations in Amsterdam, including its prized stake in China’s Tencent.

Africa’s largest public company said it wanted to list those assets on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange, with a secondary listing on the JSE.

The entity, called NewCo, was likely to be the largest listed consumer internet group in Europe by asset value, Naspers said.

Naspers, which will retain its primary listing in Johannesburg, said it planned to retain about 75% of NewCo, which will hold the group’s investments in Tencent, mail.ru, OLX, Avito, Letgo, PayU, iFood, Swiggy, Delivery Hero, Udemy, eMAG and MakeMyTrip.

The listing is expected to happen in the second half of 2019, Naspers said.

“Forming and listing a new, global consumer internet group on Euronext Amsterdam is a significant step for Naspers,” said group CEO Bob van Dijk.

“As well as opening up investment to a broader category of investors, the listing aims to reduce our weighting on the JSE, which we believe will help us maximise shareholder value over time,” Van Dijk said.

Naspers accounts for nearly a quarter of the JSE’s shareholder-weighted index, meaning local investors have been forced to reduce their relative exposure to the company to avoid concentration risk. That partly explains why the group trades at a hefty discount to the value of its portfolio, management has said in the past.

“The proposed listing on Euronext Amsterdam is expected to help address this market issue and is the next significant action by management to create shareholder value,” van Dijk said.

In early March, Naspers unbundled MultiChoice onto the JSE. The pay-TV unit helped fund Naspers’ meteoric rise since the turn of the millennium. Naspers also recently trimmed its stake in Tencent and sold its shares in India’s Flipkart.

Naspers will continue to directly hold its SA assets — including Takealot and Media24 – alongside its majority stake in NewCo.

Naspers finance chief Basil Sgourdos said the board and governance structures of NewCo would probably mirror those of Naspers.

“Even after the listing of NewCo on Euronext Amsterdam, Naspers will remain the largest SA company listed on the JSE by market capitalisation, and Naspers will continue to invest in SA,” Sgourdos said.

Naspers’s shares were down 1.1% in late morning trade at R3,241.29, dragged lower by Tencent, which was 3.1% down in Hong Kong.

"My initial feeling is that this is not going to be a silver bullet to addressing the discount, primarily because the e-commerce assets are moving with Tencent to the NewCo listing in Amsterdam," said Sentio Capital Management portfolio manager Olwethu Notshe.

A more effective option might have been a separate listing of the ecommerce businesses, Notshe said.

"Hopefully though this is the first step to an outcome where the e-commerce assets are unbundled out of NewCo in the future."

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za