Naspers spends R28bn in acquisitions last year
Global Internet and entertainment group Naspers spent over $2 billion (R28 billion) over the past financial year investing in e-commerce and food delivery businesses, as well as digital travel and payment services businesses.
Africa's biggest company saw strong growth from its e-commerce segment and from Chinese technology firm Tencent, of which it owns 31%. The group's core headline earnings for the year ended 31 March grew by 72% and revenue increased by 38% as it invested in a number of global businesses.
The group invested a combined $202 million (R2.7 billion) during the year to acquire a controlling stake in its associate Takealot Online, the leading e-tailer in SA. In April 2017, the group invested $74 million (R1 billion) in Takealot, giving it 58% ownership; then in December 2017, the group acquired an additional 38% interest in Takealot from non-controlling shareholders, settling the transaction in Naspers shares, worth $128 million (R1.7 billion). Naspers now owns an effective 96% stake in Takealot.
Naspers says Takealot extended its leadership in SA over the year by growing gross merchandise value (GMV) by 70%, and expanding its reach outside its core categories through Superbalist, its fashion and homeware business, and food delivery service Mr D Food.
Naspers' e-tail (online retail) segment showed strong growth in general during the year, with revenue rising 36% to $2.1 billion (R28 billion), when adjusted for the disposals of Souq and Konga in the current year and Allegro and Netretail last year.
During the year, the group also strengthened its position in online food delivery services by investing a combined $1.4 billion (R19 billion) in Delivery Hero and Swiggy.
The group made a number of investments in global online food ordering and delivery marketplace, Delivery Hero, totalling $1.3 billion (R17.6 billion). In May 2017, the group acquired its initial interest in Delivery Hero through an investment of $426 million (R5.8 billion). On 30 June 2017, Delivery Hero successfully completed an initial public offering of its shares, a process during which the group invested a further $47 million (R635 million), after which Naspers held an 11% stake in Delivery Hero.
In December 2017, Naspers invested an additional $47 million (R635 million) as part of a private placement in order to maintain its relative shareholding. During March 2018, it acquired Rocket Internet SE's interest in Delivery Hero for $778 million (R10.5 billion). Following this, the group's interest in Delivery Hero, which operates in more than 42 countries, grew to 23%.
Naspers' results show cumulative annualised GMV growth for the food delivery segment was 65%, and cumulative annualised order volumes across Delivery Hero, Swiggy and Latin American company, iFood, rose 65% during the financial year.
Naspers says it was a pivotal year in the transformation of payments into a broader fintech services business through investing in Kreditech, a credit-scoring business, and Remitly, a technology-driven remittance business, for a combined $199 million (R2.7 billion).
In May 2017, the group invested $99 million (R1.3 billion) in Kreditech and also provided convertible loan funding of EUR20 million (R315 million) to Kreditech. Following the investment, the group holds a 38% effective interest in Kreditech. In November 2017, the group also invested $100 million in global digital money-transfer service Remitly, acquiring a 23% stake.
Naspers' payments and fintech business, PayU, also recorded healthy revenue growth of 58% during the year, driven by a 48% increase in transactions processed.
In November 2017, the group invested $41 million (R554 million) to acquire a 100% effective interest in AutoTrader, an online automobile classifieds vertical in SA.
In May 2017, the group invested $132 million (R1.8 billion) in its associate MakeMyTrip as part of a funding round. MakeMyTrip is a leading online travel agency in India. In August and September 2017, following MakeMyTrip's issue of share options to its employees, Naspers invested $23 million (R310 million) to maintain its relative shareholding, after which it holds a 43% effective interest in the company.
Naspers' share of MakeMyTrip's revenue, in local currency and adjusted for the merger with ibibo last year, grew by 21% to $222 million (R3 billion) on the back of healthy growth in its airline ticketing and hotels and packages businesses.
Naspers did not, however, only buy into companies; it also made some significant disposals during the year. Naspers says the disposal of Souq in the Middle East, for $173 million (R2.3 billion), and Konga in Nigeria, for a loss of $38 million (R514 million), was to improve long-term returns. It also finalised the closure of Markafoni in Turkey.
Despite making investments in Indian e-commerce company Flipkart during the financial year, worth $71 million (R960 million), the group announced in May 2018 it was disposing of its 12.4% stake in Flipkart, to US-based retailer Walmart. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval, but will bring in $2.2 billion (R29.7 billion) for Naspers, which represents an internal rate of return (IRR) of around 32%.
To reinforce the balance sheet and pursue growth opportunities in, among others, the classifieds, online food delivery and fintech businesses, Naspers sold a 2% interest in Tencent in March 2018, for $9.8 billion (R132 billion). This was the first time since Naspers first invested in the Chinese Internet company in 2001 that it had sold any shares. The disposal reduced the group's shareholding from 33.17% to 31.17%.