Jamie Carr Columnist

Investors may be tiring of some of the more aggressively valued unicorns that show little sign of getting back to their IPO levels, but Prosus is an altogether different sort of beast. The company is all over the place in the best of all possible ways, with interests in online classifieds, food delivery, payments and fintech, e-tail, travel, education and social and internet platforms.

Geographically it is particularly strong in markets with enormous potential such as China and India, and as the largest listed consumer internet company in Europe, its scale offers unique opportunities.

Prosus has taken the decision to invest heavily in food delivery of late, as the company expects it to continue to grow rapidly as consumers appreciate the convenience of ordering with a couple of clicks rather than schlepping out to a restaurant or slaving over the hot stove.

Prosus is looking to go beyond merely connecting a restaurant with a customer, and aims to disrupt all elements of the supply chain. Its interests in iFood in Brazil, Swiggy in India, Delivery Hero in 41 world markets and indirectly through Meituan in China and Delivery Club in Russia give it a global reach that will be even broader if it pulls off the acquisition of Just Eat.

Tencent remains the jewel in the crown, and the more its ecosystem grows the more its users are drawn into its web. Prosus has a mighty healthy balance sheet, giving it the firepower to apply resources wherever they are needed to drive long-term growth and to maximise the potential of the businesses it is growing.

CSG Holdings
Seeking security

Meanwhile back at the other end of the futuristic spectrum, CSG is a support services group that is hoping to become a leading outsource partner providing facilities management, security and risk solutions, and staff solutions domestically and across Africa.

This is a sector that should do well as companies see the benefits of outsourcing noncore functions rather than attempting to deal with them themselves, especially in an environment where labour legislation motivates corporates to keep as few people on their own payroll as possible.

The company has had what it describes as a disappointing six months, as a result of the challenging economic environment as well as a poor performance from its security companies 7 Arrows and Revert Risk Management, which contrived to notch up an operating loss of R46.4m.

CSG has appointed a new CEO of the security division to stem the bleeding and put in place an aggressive turnaround plan, and a round of retrenchments was completed by the end of October.

Demand for security services is unlikely to dwindle, and the company is hoping that its centralised control room in Pretoria will sharpen up its offering and start to drive sales from 2021. CSG has appointed a business development executive to sniff out marketing and sales synergies between the various group companies, and to allow it to offer clients a one-stop outsource solution. As it grows it can start to market its offering to larger clients, and now the challenge is to prove it can deliver a quality service across its various niches.