Naspers has grown into a global internet giant and, in combination with Prosus, owns 58 companies worldwide.
First established in 1915 as “Die Nasional Pers”, Naspers was originally founded as a news media company. It had the support of prominent South African politicians, including Jan Smuts, Louis Botha, and J.B.M. Hertzog.
Its first two publications were De Burger in 1915, which remains in publication as Die Burger in the Cape provinces — and De Huisgenoot in 1916, which is still in publication as Huisgenoot.
It would go on to found multiple news publications across different provinces, including the Eastern Cape’s Die Oosterlig in 1937 and Die Transvaler in the same year.
Naspers introduced Die Beeld in 1965 as competition to Perskor’s Dagbreek publication, and by 1970 the two were merged into Rapport.
It also invested in multiple print ad publishing companies after entering the book publishing market in 1918, acquiring Human & Rousseau, JL van Schaik, and Drum Publications, publishers of City Press and Drum magazine.
Until 1986 Naspers’ investments were primarily in the South African news and publishing space.
Naspers founded M-Net in 1986, partnering with Johnnic Communications (now Tiso Blackstar / Times Media), Argus Holdings (now the Independent Media / Sekunjalo) and Perskor (now partly Caxton) in doing so.
M-Net proved a success and steadily expanded operations in the 1990s with sister companies MultiChoice and Mweb.
In 1998 the company founded News24 and Kalahari.net, and, in the same year, its name was officially changed to Naspers Limited. In 2001, the company paid $32 million — around R260 million at the time — for a 46.5% share in Tencent.
Its Tencent investment is considered one of the most successful venture capital investments of all time. Tencent’s market capitalization is currently $687 billion (R9.76 trillion).
Naspers took full ownership of M-Net, Multichoice and Mweb in 2003, and in 2007 the company acquired a 30% share in the Mail.ru Group, Russia’s largest internet company, for $165 million, which would now be worth around $1.46 billion, or R21 billion.
After a series of investments in numerous developing countries, Naspers merged Kalahari.net with Takealot.com in 2015, and by 2018 it had acquired a 96% share in the company.
Over time, Naspers grew to such an extent that it had an overbearing effect on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
To diversify its investment portfolio and unlock more value for shareholders, Naspers founded Prosus in 2019 and listed the company on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange.
Prosus became the biggest internet company in Europe the moment it debuted.
However, the shares of both companies still trade at a discount compared to its Tencent holding — a problem shareholders still want Naspers and Prosus to address.
The global investment portfolio of Naspers has grown substantially in the past decade. Its holdings are listed in the image and table below.
|Naspers and Prosus Shareholdings|
|Takealot||South Africa||Online Retail|
|Autotrader||South Africa||Auto Classifieds|
|OLX Autos||Netherlands||Auto Classifieds|
|Property 24||South Africa||Real Estate|
|LazyPay||India||Pay Later Platform|
|Red Dot Payment||Singapore||Payment Provider|
|Delivery Hero||Germany||Food Delivery|
|Mail.ru Group||Russia||Social Media|
|99 Minutos||Mexico||Courier Service|
|DeHaat||India||Agriculture Sales Platform|
|Dott||Netherlands||Electric Scooter Rentals|
|ElasticRun||India||Business to Business Courier|
|Honor||USA||Personal Home Care|
|Klar||Mexico||Financial Management Platform|
|Meesho||India||Social Commerce Platform|
|Movile||Brazil||Food Delivery and Logistics|
|PharmEasy||India||Online Pharmacy and Healthcare|
|SimilarWeb||USA||Digital Tracking and Insights|
|Urban Company||India||Digital Marketplace|
|Stack Overflow||USA||Question and Answer Coding Forum|
|Udemy||USA||Online Class Platform|