Naspers ties up with rivals to boost online offering

2014-11-14 09:27 - Reuters and Fin24
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Johannesburg - Media firm Naspers [JSE:NPN] will join forces with Singapore Press Holdings and two Norwegian companies to accelerate their e-commerce businesses in four fast-growing emerging markets, the companies said.

The four firms, which include Norway's Schibsted ASA and Telenor ASA, said in a statement late on Thursday they would set up a series of joint ventures for their online classifieds businesses in Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh.

The size of the deal was not disclosed. The transaction is the latest move by Naspers to push further into lucrative online businesses in emerging markets.

"Combining the platforms will make it faster and easier for consumers to trade and turn their items into cash. They will be able to choose from a wider selection of items and be more successful in selling their own items to a larger audience of buyers. By coming together, the businesses will also be able to share cost, expertise and people to more effectively build awareness of the benefits of a vibrant online classifieds offering to consumers," Naspers said in a statement on Friday.

By focusing on e-commerce and media operations in fast-growing countries, Cape Town-based Naspers has transformed itself from an apartheid-era newspaper publisher into a $53bn media and internet giant.

In both Brazil and Bangladesh, Naspers will split the ventures with SNT, a company jointly owned by the two Norwegian firms.

In Indonesia, Naspers will take 64% of the new business, with the remainder owned by 701Search, itself a venture among Singapore Press and the two Norwegian companies.

In Thailand, 701Search will own 56% and Naspers 44%.

As part of the agreement, 701Search will transfer its online classifieds business in the Philippines to Naspers, who will manage the operation. This will allow 701Search to focus its efforts in Thailand. The parties will continue to develop other markets separately.

Commenting on the transaction, Rolv Erik Ryssdal, CEO of Schibsted Media Group, said: “Schibsted, our existing partners and Naspers have all been at the forefront in developing high quality, online market places for consumers wanting to buy and sell in a number of emerging markets. By joining forces, we will be able to further develop these market places even more efficiently."

“Combining our expertise and sharing costs means we can build much better awareness among consumers of the huge benefits of online classifieds,” added Martin Scheepbouwer, CEO of Classifieds at Naspers. “We’ll also be able to expand the products and services we offer to existing and new buyers and sellers”.

Building on the already established and successful cooperation between us, SPH and Schibsted, the engagement in online classifieds "has moved from a somewhat unexplored field to a strategic and exciting area of opportunity. I’m confident that taking this to the next phase will result in a sustainable model with great customer services, good growth and potential synergies", said Henrik Clausen, EVP and Head of Telenor Group Strategy & Digital.

Alan Chan, CEO of SPH, said: "We are pleased to partner with Naspers following our strategic investments with Schibsted and Telenor. It will greatly enhance our regional presence, ensure cost savings and promote exchange of expertise. We are confident that this move will help us better serve all consumers in the region."

The transaction is subject to EU approval and is expected to close in early 2015.

* Fin24 is part of Media24, a subsidiary of Naspers.

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