Koos Bekker: Africa’s Rupert Murdoch

Naspers CEO, Koos Bekker, has had an illustrious career in business and media in South Africa – helping forge a media powerhouse that’s changed the South African broadcasting landscape and delivered massive returns to investors.

Born on the 14th of December 1952 in Potchefstroom, South Africa, Bekker (59) has been dubbed the “Rupert Murdoch of Africa”, being directly involved in the South African broadcast landscape since he was a fresh-faced graduate.

Education

Bekker currently holds a number of qualifications, including a Bachelor of Arts in Law, Honours in Literature and an LLB from Stellenbosch University, as well as a masters in business administration from Columbia University, in the USA.

Bekker also received an Honorary Doctorate in Commerce from the University of Stellenbosch.

At the end of his student years, in 1984, Bekker moved straight into the position of CEO at the newly-formed M-Net Limited, which was born out of the fusion of Nasionale Pers and a number of other South African media companies.

As the company grew, a separate arm of M-Net – dealing mainly with subscriber management, signal distribution and cellphone activities – came to be, under the name of Multichoice Limited , which would later be renamed to MIH Holdings.

Bekker served as CEO for the MIH Group from 1991, after being at M-Net, to 1997, where he went on to become the CEO of Naspers, where he currently still serves as chief executive.

The journey to media greatness

Bekker has always played a significant role at Naspers (formerly Nasionale Pers – National Press) leading the founding team of M-Net in 1985.

By extension, under his leadership, he pioneered the development of M-Net, Supersport, MultiChoice’s satellite television as well as M-Web – and subsequently directed Naspers from a small media company, to a multinational media giant with diverse media interests in many markets.

Naspers has interests in Internet, pay-TV, magazines, newspapers, books and private education, as well as investments in China, India, Russia and other countries across the globe.

Bekker headed massive investments into emerging market Internet companies which, in recent fiscal years, have been paying off for the media company, with massive profits and returns to investors.

These investments include stakes in China’s Internet and instant messaging leader Tencent Holdings; Russian Internet giant Mail.ru; and Brazilian magazine publisher Abril.

According to Forbes, during his tenure at Naspers, Bekker has overseen a rise in the market capitalization of the company from about $600 million to $25 billion – all the while drawing no salary, bonus, or benefits.

Diverse interests

Bekker has not only been involved in the South African media landscape, but has also been a part of other growing and significant sectors of the country.

He was a founding director of Africa’s largest mobile network operator, MTN, which was established in 1994, and continues to serve as director for Media24 and MultiChoice.

Bekker was also a director for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Local Organising Committee.

He is married to the editor of South Africa’s Elle Decoration magazine, Karen Roos, with whom he renovated Babylonstoren – a sweeping 560 acre wine estate in the Drakenstein Valley.

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Koos Bekker: Africa’s Rupert Murdoch