- Africa’s Biggest Company Sees E-Commerce Growth Closing $32 Billion Value Gap
Naspers Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Bob Van Dijk said five years of heavy e-commerce investments are bearing fruit, which should prove to investors that the assets are worth more than they think.
Van Dijk is seeking to show shareholders that Africa’s largest company by market value has more to offer than just its well-timed investment in Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. Cape Town-based Naspers has ridden the coattails of the WeChat creator to be the best performer on Johannesburg’s FTSE/JSE Africa Top 40 Index this year with a 50 percent rise.
The catch is that the market values the 33 percent stake in the Shenzhen-based company at almost $32 billion more than Naspers as a whole. Outflows of South African capital since late 2015 have contributed to the widening disparity, according to Van Dijk.
He said the value gap will start to close as Naspers’s classified-advertising division, which includes Russia’s Avito, turns profitable in the current fiscal year. The services unit of payment business PayU is close to breaking even, and Polish e-commerce platform eMAG is starting to benefit from a large customer base. The companies are part of Naspers’s e-commerce unit, which recorded a loss of $682 million for the 12 months that ended in March, leaving out interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.
“We are excited about a business like eMAG turning profitable,” Van Dijk said in an interview Friday. “That will be a catalyst to recognizing the value of our other assets.”
Naspers has for years scoured the world looking for another early-stage technology company that will eventually replicate the success of Tencent, in which it invested $32 million 16 years ago. The company has since put money into a wide range of assets, including Russia’s Mail.Ru Group Ltd. and Indian travel agency MakeMyTrip. It sold Polish online auction site Allegro for $3.25 billion last year.
Van Dijk’s main priority in the short term will be on expanding Naspers’ companies to reach broader audiences and using technology to improve customers’ experience. “We have a big team that looks at using artificial intelligence in our classified platforms to eliminate spam ads, for instance,” said Van Dijk.
Earlier at the company’s annual meeting in Cape Town, Chairman Koos Bekker countered criticism Naspers relies too heavily on its $132 billion stake in Tencent. He reminded investors that they would have been a lot poorer if he’d given in to similar pressure to sell the holding years ago. The shares have risen more than sixfold in the past five years, closing Friday at HK$328.40, as Tencent’s services have become an integral part of Chinese life.
“Five years ago there was also a lot of unhappiness,” Bekker told shareholders. “If we had sold then, you would have gotten HK$45, now you get HK$325. We are not married to the share, but at this point in time it’s paying shareholders.”
Bekker said that the assumption that Tencent is making money and Naspers’s other ventures are loss-making was “illiterate,” since profitability doesn’t accurately capture the value of the businesses. He said the biggest internet companies grow faster in both China and the U.S. and that the argument for breaking up technology companies is flawed.
“Amazon, for instance, has made losses at times,” Bekker said. “The link between short-term profitability and value is simply not there.”
The debate over Naspers’s non-Tencent assets has spilled over into the discussion over the African company’s executive compensation. Allan Gray Ltd., holder of a 2.3 percent stake, said earlier this week that the remuneration paid to top executives including Van Dijk isn’t aligned to the performance of the underlying business, excluding Tencent.
The CEO was paid $2.2 million in the year through March, an increase of 32 percent, and awarded $10.4 million in long-term share options. In that time, Naspers made a trading loss of $379 million when Tencent’s contribution is stripped out.
Naspers’s executive pay policy was approved at the shareholder meeting with 79 percent of the vote. Certain investors, including Bekker, hold special shares that give them a majority vote.
Brent Crude Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel on Friday
Nigerian Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel Following OPEC+ Production Cuts Extension
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $69 on Friday at 3:55 pm Nigerian time.
Oil price jumped after OPEC and allies, known as OPEC plus, agreed to role-over crude oil production cuts to further reduce global oil supplies and artificially sustain oil price in a move experts said could stoke inflationary pressure.
Brent crude oil rose from $63.86 per barrel on Wednesday to $69 per barrel on Friday as energy investors became more optimistic about the oil outlook.
While certain experts are worried that U.S crude oil production will eventually hurt OPEC strategy once the economy fully opens, few experts are saying production in the world’s largest economy won’t hit pre-pandemic highs.
According to Vicki Hollub, the CEO of Occidental, U.S oil production may not return to pre-pandemic levels given a shift in corporates’ value.
“I do believe that most companies have committed to value growth, rather than production growth,” she said during a CNBC Evolve conversation with Brian Sullivan. “And so I do believe that that’s going to be part of the reason that oil production in the United States does not get back to 13 million barrels a day.”
Hollub believes corporate organisations will focus on optimizing present operations and facilities, rather than seeking growth at all costs. She, however, noted that oil prices rebounded faster than expected, largely due to China, India and United States’ growing consumption.
“The recovery looks more V-shaped than we had originally thought it would be,” she said. Occidental previous projection had oil production recovering to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of 2022. The CEO Now believes demand will return by the end of this year or the first few months of 2022.
“I do believe we’re headed for a much healthier supply and demand environment” she said.
Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts
Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $67.70 per barrel on Thursday following the decision of OPEC and allies, known as OPEC+, to extend production cuts.
OPEC and allies are presently debating whether to restore as much as 1.5 million barrels per day of crude oil in April, according to people with the knowledge of the meeting.
Experts have said OPEC+ continuous production cuts could increase global inflationary pressure with the rising price of could oil. However, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said “I don’t think it will overheat.”
Last year “we suffered alone, we as OPEC+” and now “it’s about being vigilant and being careful,” he said.
Saudi minister added that the additional 1 million barrel-a-day voluntary production cut the kingdom introduced in February was now open-ended. Meaning, OPEC+ will be withholding 7 million barrels a day or 7 percent of global demand from the market– even as fuel consumption recovers in many nations.
Experts have started predicting $75 a barrel by April.
“We expect oil prices to rise toward $70 to $75 a barrel during April,” said Ann-Louise Hittle, vice president of macro oils at consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “The risk is these higher prices will dampen the tentative global recovery. But the Saudi energy minister is adamant OPEC+ must watch for concrete signs of a demand rise before he moves on production.”
Gold Hits Eight-Month Low as Global Optimism Grows Amid Rising Demand for Bitcoin
Gold Struggles Ahead of Economic Recovery as Bitcoin, New Gold, Surges
Global haven asset, gold, declined to the lowest in more than eight months on Tuesday as signs of global economic recovery became glaring with rising bond yields.
The price of the precious metal declined to $1,718 per ounce during London trading on Thursday, down from $2,072 it traded in August as more investors continue to cut down on their holdings of the metal.
The previous metal usually performs poorly with rising yields on other assets like bonds, especially given the fact that gold does not provide streams of interest payments. Investors have been jumping on US bonds ahead of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, expected to stoke stronger US price growth.
“We see the rising bond yields as a sign of economic optimism, which has also prompted gold investors to sell some of their positions,” said Carsten Menke of Julius Baer.
Another analyst from Commerzbank, Carsten Fritsch, said that “gold’s reputation appears to have been tarnished considerably by the heavy losses of recent weeks, as evidenced by the ongoing outflows from gold ETFs”.
Experts at Investors King believed the growing demand for Bitcoin, now called the new gold, and other cryptocurrencies in recent months by institutional investors is hurting gold attractiveness.
In a recent report, analysts at Citigroup have started projecting mainstream acceptance for the unregulated dominant cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.
The price of Bitcoin has rallied by 60 percent to $52,000 this year alone. While Ethereum has risen by over 660 percent in 2021.
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