Five South African Firms On ‘Global Challengers’ List

global challenger naspers
global challenger Naspers’ head office in Cape Town

AFRICANGLOBE – Five South African companies are named on the Boston Consulting Group’s list of “100 global challengers – companies from emerging markets that are “growing so quickly overseas that they are reshaping industries and surpassing many traditional multinational companies”.

South Africa increased its number of “challenger” companies from three in 2011 to five on the 2013 list released by the US management consultancy on Tuesday.

The five, all members of the the JSE’s top 40, are pharmaceutical company Aspen Pharmacare, services, trading and distribution group Bidvest, mobile telecommunications firm MTN, media group Naspers, and petrochemicals company Sasol. Aspen, MTN and Naspers are newcomers to the list.

Outpacing Household Names In US, Europe 

According to the report, the 100 challenger companies – which come from 17 emerging market countries – are outpacing household names in the US and Europe and are having a profound impact on the global economy.

“They are expanding their business portfolios, reaching the rapidly expanding consumer class in emerging markets, exploring new businesses based on the rising connectivity of the emerging world, and moving into underserved fast-growing markets.”

In the past five years, the report finds, these companies have created 1.4-million jobs, at a time when employment at the non-financial S&P 500 stayed flat. Their average revenue was US$26.5-billion in 2011, compared with $21-billion for the S&P 500’s non-financial companies and $20-billion for the entire S&P 500.

‘Wake-Up Call for Business Leaders In the West’ 

“If ever there was a wake-up call for business leaders in the West, this is it,” report co-author David C. Michael said in a statement. “We have been monitoring the rise of global challenger companies for nearly a decade, and the ambition of these companies – what we call the accelerator mindset – has never been stronger.”

According to newspaper Business Day, Aspen Pharmacare, one of South Africa’s best-performing stocks over the past three years, was chosen “because, among other reasons, it had acquired 25 brands in Australia from GlaxoSmith-Kline in well received deals”.

MTN, for its part, “had grown strong businesses in Africa and parts of the Middle East”, Business Day reported, while Naspers was commended “for being the largest media company in the developing world”.

The report calls on business leaders in the West to follow the example of other multinationals that are working with this new generation of companies.

“Global challengers bring far more to the table than a low-cost structure,” Tenbite Ermias, a report co-author and head of Boston Consulting Group’s office in South Africa, said in the statement. “Multinationals that view global challengers only as low-cost competitors misunderstand their competitive threat and their potential for partnership.”