Naspers gains on Middle East rumours

SA media giant Naspers gained R4.13 or 0.76% in morning trade on the JSE, amid rumours that it will acquire a stake in a prominent e-commerce site in the Middle East.

The multinational group of media and ecommerce platforms moved to R547.65, having reached a high of R550.10 in intraday trade, giving the group a market cap of R225.89 billion.

Naspers is believed to be close to tying up a $40 million stake in Souq.com, which is part of Jabbar, a company in the consumer e-commerce sector in the Arab World, according to Arabian Business.

The Middle East publication says that the deal will be announced in the next two weeks and will be the largest investment made in an ecommerce and internet business in the Middle East since the sale of Maktoob.com, the largest portal in the Arab world in 2009.

Naspers did not responded to emails from Arabian Business seeking comment.

The SA firm has a number of profitable international internet businesses including Mail.ru in Russia, of which it has a 30% stake, and Chinese Internet company, Tencent, of which it has a 34.2% holding. The group also has a small indirect stake in Facebook.

Naspers has for some time been on an acquisition trail in the online space, with interests in internet platforms in Central and Easter Europe, including Poland and the Czech Republic, and extending into Brazil, Thailand and India.

According to a Reuters article at the end of July, CEO Koos Bekker said Naspers would complete 10 to 20 acquisitions in the year through March 2013.

At the end of June, Naspers reported a 19% rise in consolidated revenues for the year ended March 2012, to R39.5 billion.

In August, Tencent reported a 32% rise in second-quarter net profit to 3.1 billion yuan ($492 million), its biggest rise since the first quarter of 2011.

The group’s revenue rose 56% to 10.53 billion yuan ($1.65 billion) on the back of a 53% rise in online gaming revenue and online advertising revenue, which advanced 72% from before.

Souq.com was established in 2005, and “has become the largest online shopping mall in the Arab world, according to its parent company, Jabbar.

It is situated across the region in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Jordan and is described as a “destination where thousands of visitors in the region meet on a daily basis to buy and sell a diverse product range over a trusted platform that offers various, convenient payment options coupled with local delivery services that meet both sellers’ and buyers’ individual needs”.

By the end of 2011 the Arab world had more than 77.7 million internet users, a penetration rate of around 22%, according to Abassi.

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Naspers gains on Middle East rumours