/ 24 June 2024

Naspers sees continuation of its Media24 business despite print publication cuts

Media24 owner Naspers says it is pursuing the continuation of its businesses despite the recent decision to halt major print publications. (Graeme Williams/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Media24 owner Naspers says it is pursuing the continuation of its businesses despite the recent decision to halt major print publications. 

At its results presentation in Cape Town on Monday, Naspers chief executive Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa said the decision to close Media24’s print publications, including the Daily Sun, City Press, Rapport and Beeld, was a response to the global struggle with the media segment.

“Globally, there have been significant challenges. From that perspective, Media24 has also suffered the challenges that we’re seeing globally,” she said.

Subscriptions for print publications have dropped significantly, and the aim is to move their  presence online to ensure that there is a continuation of the businesses, Mahanyele-Dabengwa said. More than 400 people could lose their jobs amid the restructuring. 

Naspers, which also owns Takealot, Superbalist and Mr Delivery Food, reported an 8% growth in consolidated revenue to $6.4 billion or R116 billion for the financial year ending March 2024. Revenue growth was driven primarily by a strong performance in its e-commerce portfolios, specifically iFood and OLX, a classifieds business. 

Its e-commerce consolidated trading profit improved to $24 million (R432 million) 

on the back of growth, scale and cost reductions, the financial statement said.  

Naspers owns a majority stake in Amsterdam-based Prosus, which reported a 11% increase year-on-year in consolidated revenue growth to $5.5 billion (R99 billion) for the same period. 

Prosus’s group chief financial officer, Basil Sgourdos, said this was the company’s first full-year of profitability and that it was growing at a faster rate than its peers in the sector. On aggregate, he said the News24 and Netwerk24 news stables were profitable businesses during the financial period.

 “We have a viable, online media group [in South Africa] that is also financially viable. I think that’s something to be proud of as South Africans. I think we are going to see more and more media companies in South Africa transition along that line and build viable and profitable businesses,” Sgourdos said.

Aside from e-commerce, Basil said Prosus’s growth was significantly driven by the use of artificial intelligence in its businesses, and that it plans to continue using AI to improve the company’s productivity, but that it also plans to invest in AI-related ideas. 

Prosus has already invested in nine AI focused investments after looking at close to 900 opportunities, but the group’s interim chief executive, Ervin Tu, said the company is continuously looking at investment opportunities that the market presents. 

“We will continue to look into what the market gives and behave accordingly. While we have achieved a milestone today, we are still utterly focused on improving further. We have some fixing still to do, but more about accelerating and advancing the success of some of our businesses.” 

The incoming Prosus group chief executive, Brazilian Fabricio Bloisi, replaces Bob van Dijk, who stepped down in September 2023 after nearly 10 years at the helm. Bloisi is the chief executive of iFood, a leading food delivery company in Brazil and globally.

When he joins in July, Bloisi said he would look at how the company can prepare for new investment cycles such as AI and strengthen its e-commerce profile.

“We have an ecosystem that is a source of strong, competitive advantage. So I see ourselves as an e-commerce company that reinvents ourselves a lot,” he said.

“Most of what we are doing is around e-commerce and obviously food delivery is a big priority … We are working more together now to ensure that we can work as a strong global tech company.” 

This journalist’s trip to Cape Town to cover the results was sponsored by Naspers.