Cash-flush Naspers on the hunt for deals

The company has a cash pile of $10 billion (R136 billion).

Naspers, Africa’s largest company by market value with a cash pile of $10 billion (R136 billion), is on the hunt for acquisitions, taking advantage of declining asset prices.

Naspers chief financial officer Basil Sgourdos (pictured) told Bloomberg that the company is targeting “significant investments” in the next couple of months.

“In the first half of this year we have done about $750 million (R10.2 billion) in deals, and there are some near-term opportunities coming up,” Basil told Bloomberg.

He said markets are correcting and valuations are coming down, which favours companies with strong balance sheets like Naspers.

According to Basil, Naspers, which has built its fortunes on its 31 percent stake in Chinese technology giant, Tencent, considers about 700 deals and completes 10 to 15 deal every year.

The company favours investing in classifieds, online retail and payments businesses but in recent months it has grown its exposure in the food delivery industry. Basil told Bloomberg that Naspers sees “lots of runway” in the food delivery industry.

The company’s cash pile has grown this year due to the sale of shares in Tencent and India’s Flipkart. “Our plan is to quickly and aggressively expand our reach, we are increasing our investment in the sector,” said Basil.

It plans to invest another R4.6 billion over the next three years in South Africa’s technology industry.

Naspers will start investing R1.4 billion of funds – through its start-up fund called the Naspers Foundry – to help South African technology entrepreneurs grow their start-ups.

The R1.4 billion start-up fund was announced at the inaugural South Africa Investment Conference 2018 in October and aims to fund and support local technology start-ups seeking to address “big societal needs”.

The Naspers Foundry will be launched during 2019.