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Naspers has eye on Russia

2007.12.23

Johannesburg - Koos Bekker, CEO of JSE- listed media group Naspers (NPN), said on Tuesday afternoon that the group was "seriously investigating" business opportunities in Russia.


Presenting the group's interim results from Cape Town during a conference call, Bekker told investors and analysts that the group was in talks with potential partners to tap into the Russian market.


"We are seriously investigating Russia," he said.


The group has publicly said that it plans to make key investments in high-growth markets such as Brazil, China, Southern Africa, India and Russia.


However, Bekker said that it has proven too expensive for the group to buy into Indian companies.


The group would instead start a new internet venture for the youth market in that country.


He added that the group's major driver for the next few years would be its pay television network, buoyed by the Fifa 2010 Soccer World Cup.


'Increasing competition'


"There's an increasing competition for soccer rights, particularly from Nigeria and South Africa," said Bekker, adding that the group would invest more in research and development for mobile television.


Naspers is also one of the companies that have applied for South Africa's satellite broadcast licence, on which Bekker said the group expected the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa to make an announcement in the first quarter of next year.


Noting that the group's internet business - M-Web - had a 338 000 subscriber base, Bekker said that broadband rollout was improving, but "not fast enough".


"While we are happy with growth of our broadband business, the roll-out of broadband has been very slow. It leaves our country way behind compared with other countries," he said


Earlier on Tuesday Naspers reported revenue growth of 22% to R9.1bn, core headline earnings of R1.3bn and free cash flow of R1.0bn for the six months ended September.


It also announced that it has granted Bekker, who has already been heading up a major media company for 21 years and a listed one for 16, an unpaid sabbatical for one financial year from April 1 next year to March 31 2008.

 


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