The Naspers Board is immensely proud of what their people achieved during the past year. They managed the pandemic, delivered powerful revenue growth and lifted profitability. Foundations were laid for future growth.
The year ended 31 March 2021 (FY21) was an extraordinary period. Despite the challenges, the group has delivered strong results across its portfolio and made good progress against its strategy.
Group revenue, measured on an economic-interest basis, grew 34% (32%) to US$29.6bn, a meaningful acceleration of 17pp (9pp) on the same period last year. Group trading profit grew 49% (45%) to US$5.6bn.
Providing useful products and services
Seven years ago, we set out a strategy to build valuable, global consumer internet businesses. We focus on high-growth markets, where our platforms can provide useful products and services for millions of people in their everyday lives. In recent years, we have deliberately repositioned the group for an increasingly online world and invested effectively to accelerate growth and deliver good returns across our portfolio.
Over the past 12 months, this strategy and the momentum we have built has paid off. The group has benefited from its online focus, its global reach, diversified operations and strong financial footing. Our teams have also adapted well to the changing operating environment.
This has meant we have been well placed to effectively respond to the world’s increased demand for online products and services triggered by COVID-19. Our businesses across online classifieds, food delivery, payments and finance technology, education technology and online retail have continued to serve and support their customers and communities.
We have also identified promising adjacencies for our existing businesses as well as new business models through our global Ventures team.
In FY21 our businesses grew stronger, building on the momentum they had at the end of the previous year. For some businesses, there was an initial adverse impact in the face of early lockdowns and restrictions.
We adapted quickly, and as restrictions eased and the pandemic drove more people online, we were ready to meet heightened consumer demand with products and services that helped people and their communities through difficult times. At a local level, we also provided additional support to our people, partners, customers, communities and in some cases, governments, to help our stakeholders respond to COVID-19.
Commitment to environmental and social issues
Separately, we enhanced our commitment to environmental and social issues, and we are carbon-neutral as a group, having offset our emissions for the past financial year.
During the period, we accelerated revenue growth, improved profitability and cash generation, and grew customer numbers. All core e-commerce segments made progress against their financial and strategic objectives. Classifieds performed well under tough circumstances and recovered in the second half, regaining financial and operational momentum by focusing on continued innovation with products that support users along their transaction journey.
Food Delivery and e-tail performed exceptionally well as customers shifted from offline to online. After an initial drop in volumes in India as the country entered lockdown, our Payments and Fintech business rebounded, reflected in accelerating volumes. Finally, our investments in Edtech began to bear fruit, driven by increased adoption by students working from home.
Tencent recorded another strong financial performance. We believe it remains very well positioned for growth. We remain committed long-term investors in Tencent.
We are focused on building further value across our businesses and see significant upside in some new opportunities in which we have invested. Notably, in adding the autos transaction businesses to our Classifieds operations, a broader on-demand delivery ecosystem in our Food Delivery segment, expanding into digital banking in Payments and Fintech, and in the promising new segment of Edtech, which will be reported on from 1 April 2021.
Unlocking value for both Naspers and Prosus shareholders
Over the years, we have increased our financial flexibility, allowing the group to pursue its growth objectives. This has enabled us to invest in expansion and in ourselves. To illustrate this, we announced a US$5bn share purchase programme of Naspers and Prosus stock.
This was implemented through on-market acquisitions of US$1.4bn Prosus N ordinary shares, completed in February 2021. In addition, US$3.6bn Naspers N ordinary shares, which will be completed by the end of June 2021.
On 12 May 2021, Prosus announced a voluntary share exchange offer to acquire 45.4% of Naspers shares. We believe this is a useful step in unlocking value for both Naspers and Prosus shareholders by reducing Naspers’s outsized weighting on the Johannesburg stock exchange (JSE). It will help Prosus in more than doubling its free float on the stock market to 59.7%.
Naspers shareholders will derive immediate value accretion from exchanging their shares into the lesser-discounted Prosus shares. This value should compound at a lower discount over time as Prosus’s value grows.
Naspers shareholders should also benefit from net asset value (NAV) accretion at the Prosus level. Importantly, while we are resizing Naspers on the JSE for the long term, it remains the largest company in South Africa by market capitalisation. For Prosus shareholders, buying Naspers shares at a higher discount will be NAV accretive, as Prosus will buy high-discount shares with lower-discount shares.
The transaction should unlock billions of dollars of value and assist future value creation. Further, it addresses a driver of Naspers’s discount by almost halving its index weighting, while remaining South Africa’s most valuable company on the JSE. In addition, it improves Prosus’s investment profile, increasing its free float’s economic exposure to NAV by over 100%. It is backed by a US$5bn buyback to support the transaction and stimulate orderly trading. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021. For further details, please click here.
Given the wide geographical span of our operations as well as significant M&A (mergers and acquisitions) in Ecommerce reported earnings are materially impacted by foreign exchange movements and the effects of acquisitions and disposals.
Where relevant in this report, we have adjusted for these effects. These adjustments (pro forma financial information) are quoted in brackets after the equivalent metrics reported under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and is provided in the summarised consolidated financial statements.