Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, CEO of Naspers SA. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, CEO of Naspers SA. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

The government should reduce red tape to allow for greater investment in SA technology businesses, Naspers SA CEO Phuti Mahanyele-Dabengwa said on Wednesday. 

With a market value of R1.13-trillion, the company has grown to become one of the world’s top 10 technology investors.

Locally, the business is made up of Media24 and online retailer Takealot, with international investments that include OLX and Chinese technology giant Tencent. 

Naspers says it remains committed to SA, having set aside R3.2bn to expand its local businesses and an additional R1.4bn to invest in start-ups over three years. 

Mahanyele-Dabengwa, who has been in the role for almost 100 days, said they “are constantly looking for other investments” for their businesses.

“But I think SA’s stance with regard to the legislation is a very responsible stance. I think they look out for consumers and we respect that.”

Internet businesses should, however, be considered in a different light as they are constantly evolving, she said. 

“One would expect that there would be a bit more flexibility for those types of businesses. But I’m sure, given that the president [Cyril Ramaphosa] is focused on [the] 4IR [fourth industrial revolution] and creating that environment in SA, hopefully they will look at legislation as well to enable these businesses to be formed and for us to be able to acquire certain businesses.”

The Competition Commission has recommended that Naspers’s R1.4bn bid for pre-owned car retailer WeBuyCars be blocked, saying it could lead to higher used-car prices.

Group CEO Bob van Dijk said “there’s a lot of opportunity to further invest in SA” and they are “keen to do so because the opportunities are good … and because we have a very strong foundation here…. So we’re doubly interested in investing”.

But what they are looking for as investors is “stability and predictability”.

“If a country is good at that, we’d be more keen to invest,” he said.

Van Dijk said “the world is coming to a place where there is more regulation in the internet space rather than less, and I think that’s right.

“But I also think sometimes that in the process of thinking about how to deal with these kinds of companies, regulation is not always well thought through, so in some cases it can actually hinder good investment that would make a positive difference,” he said.

gavazam@businesslive.co.za