Africa’s Largest Media Company Reduces Stake In Facebook

Naspers Media Company
Media giant Naspers’ head office in Cape Town, South Africa

AFRICANGLOBE – South Africa’s media giant Naspers‘ Russian associate, Mail.ru, plans to pay $899 million in special dividends next month after reducing stakes in Facebook, and exiting investments inGroupon and Zynga, Business Day reported on Wednesday.

Naspers share price lost 1.10 percent on Wednesday’s early trade and it was not clear what was behind this drop in shares. A number of traders could not give reasons for this, except to say this was in line with the general markets’ performance.

By noon on Wednesday the JSE All Share had slipped 1.17 percent, with losses in resources, financial and industrial shares weighing on the local bourse, the Johannesburg-based sharenet reported.

“It’s positive that the company decided to pay out almost all cash from its balance sheet to shareholders instead of potentially wasting it on acquisitions,” Business Day quoted Konstantin Belov, an analyst at Ural-Sib Capital in Moscow, as saying.

Mail.ru, which was controlled by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov and part-owned by China’s Tencent Holdings and SA’s Naspers, would pay investors $4.30 a share as of March 20 this year, the Moscow-based company said on Tuesday.

Its net income rose 37 percent last year to 8.5 billion roubles ($278 million), Mail.ru said.

Business Day reported that revenue jumped 39 percent to 21.2 billion roubles, led by paid additional services in social networks and games.

In October last year, Mail.ru sold a stake in Facebook for about $320 million, reducing its holding. It currently stands at about 0.6 percent according to Mail.ru. It also fully disposed of 4.1 percent ownership in e-commerce operator Groupon and a 1.2 percent stake in game developer Zynga during the fourth quarter, according to Business Day.

The company said it expected a revenue growth of 25 percent to 28 percent this year, according to a Bloomberg report.