If Naspers does not find good opportunities to deploy its huge cash pile, Africa’s most valuable firm will start returning funds to shareholders, management told investors this week. After trimming its stake in China’s Tencent and exiting its investment in India’s Flipkart, Naspers is sitting on more than US$10bn in net cash. It’s a staggering number, but the group’s war chest pales in comparison with those of some of its larger technology rivals. And with companies like Google being so cash-flush, competition for assets is intensifying. Google, which has about $95bn on its books, announced earlier in June that it is investing $550m in JD.com, a Tencent associate company that is the second-biggest e-commerce firm in China after Alibaba. Naspers CFO Basil Sgourdos said in a conference call with analysts on Monday: "If we can’t find opportunities to invest at good returns, we will start returning cash to shareholders."

But management is confident the Cape Town-based group will o...

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