Naspers Delays Dutch Listing After Error Informing Investors
(Bloomberg) -- Naspers Ltd. delayed a planned listing of its international internet assets in Amsterdam until September after an error sending details to shareholders meant a vote on the deal can’t go ahead as planned next week.
The announcement just minutes before the South African technology company released full-year earnings weighed on the shares, which fell as much as 3.1% in Johannesburg, the biggest drop in a month. The new company, which Naspers has named Prosus NV, the Latin word for forwards, was supposed to list in mid-July.
The mistake was made by an external service provider and “was outside our control but still unfortunate,” Chief Executive Officer Bob Van Dijk said on a conference call with reporters. “We continue to be very excited by the opportunities for the group for our proposed listing.”
The shares pared their decline and traded 0.8% lower at 3,450.23 rand as of 4:03 p.m. in Johannesburg, valuing the company at 1.5 trillion rand ($105 billion).
Naspers is planning to spin off assets including a $134 billion stake in Chinese games-maker Tencent Holdings Ltd. on the Euronext exchange in part to attract new investors and unlock value from the rest of the business, which has investments in internet ventures around the world. The classifieds unit edged into full-year profit in the 12 months though March, although the e-commerce division remains unprofitable. Naspers spun off its African pay-TV division, MultiChoice Group Ltd., in February.
Prosus may be valued at a narrower discount to Tencent than its parent company following the listing, Naspers Chief Financial Officer Basil Sgourdos said on the call. Naspers will retain a 75% stake in the new business.
The listing is also intended to reduce Naspers’s dominance of Johannesburg’s stock exchange, which has forced some investors to sell the stock. South Africa’s Government Employees Pension Fund, the company’s largest shareholder, is considering reducing its stake, Bloomberg News reported last week.
Read More: Biggest Naspers Investor Mulls Cutting $16.5 Billion Stake
The administrative error that caused the delay concerned the incorrect labeling of circulars sent to shareholders, Naspers said. In some cases the name on the envelope did not match the address, which “could in some cases lead to confusion,” the company said. A vote on the listing will now take place on Aug. 23, the same day as the annual general meeting.
Naspers said core headline earnings from continuing operations were $3 billion, up 26% on the previous year. That includes the performance of Tencent. The company also has interests in online food delivery in India and Brazil, and a stake in Russian social media giant Mail.ru Group Ltd.
(Updates with CEO comments in third paragraph.)
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