Following the news that chief executive of Naspers, Koos Bekker is stepping down after 17 years at the group, analysts have weighed in on the company’s prospects under a new leadership.
Bekker, who is stepping down in April, will be replaced by e-commerce chief Bob van Dijk, the Cape Town-based company said in a statement. After a year off, Bekker will return in April 2015 as chairman, Naspers said.
Shares in Naspers have traded sideways since the news broke last Saturday, with a marginal upside trend.
The group has added 121.47% in value over the past year, recently trading at an all time best of R1,340 on the JSE, and getting close to that level in intraday trade on Friday (28 February) to R1,330 and giving the company a market cap exceeding R535 billion.
Speaking on CNBC Africa, Rowan Williams from Nitrogen Fund Managers believes that the company remains on course for upside returns, despite a change in management. “It’s been a great theme based trade on global internet growth. Koos Bekker spotted it early. That investment in Tencent is visionary, essentially.
Williams noted that Tencent, the Chinese internet company, in which Naspers has a 34% interest, has far outperformed Naspers in terms of share price over the last 12 months.
Tencent’s value on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index over the past year exceeds 132%.
“In a sense Naspers is actually trading at a discount…there is still value there. The bulk of the short term valuation is Tencent, and you have to believe in that continued growth,” the analyst said.
He noted that Naspers aims to invest R7 billion in the next year, up from around R3.5 billion, “to land grab in this space”.
Paul Theron, CEO of financial management service Vestact pointed to Nasper’s diverse portfolio, particularly in emerging markets like Eastern Europe, Turkey and Brazil. “It’s a fabulous portfolio, with a long term evaluation: one way upwards.”
On the appointment of Bob van Dijk, Theron said: “Now there is a new CEO, his name is Bob. So the question is…is he going to be Bob the builder, or Bob the seller, because if he is going to be Bob the builder, he is going to be buying new things which is what they (Naspers) have been doing for the last decade, which is fine, if there is anything still left to buy that is.”
“If he is going to be Bob the seller, that is also exciting,” the analyst said, noting the value in some of the parts of Naspers.
“I’m assuming that if Koos Bekker hired the guy, then he must be good.”